Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sex and the City smiles

"Louise we need a cocktail. Grab your rental." - Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City - The Movie (Photo Source)

Tonight (note: while taking a bath) I watched part of Sex and the City (The Movie). One of my favorite parts of this movie is the relationship between Louise (from St. Louis) and Carrie. I love the (somewhat unlikely) friendship they develop, and the ways they support each other throughout the film.

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE Sex and the City. I own every season and can quote any episode - and am not ashamed to say that. I have so many fantastic memories watching this show with my girlfriends for years. Whenever I watch the show I am so happy - it truly makes me laugh every time and puts me in a great mood - it also reminds me of the friendships that I am so blessed to have.

Make a point of watching your "pick me up" movie this week and celebrate! Totally worth it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wellness Diva #4: Katie (The HOT Yogini)

Oh Katie - what a cutie :)

I am excited to introduce my fourth Wellness Diva: Miss Katie McDonnell.

I met Katie during a volleyball camp in 8th grade and then bumped into her during high school volleyball try-outs! We played together for several years and had an absolute BLAST (note: Katie named me "Bubble Butt" and I named her "Chicken Legs," which we still call each other to this day).

I am so glad that Katie and I have remained close friends since high school. I have always loved being around Katie because she always has a calming presence and makes me laugh - it's truly a gift to a friend!

Katie and her fiance, Andy - who are getting married in October!!

Recently, Katie and I got together for happy hour while she was in town, and she shared with me about her love of Hot Yoga. She went on to say how much Hot Yoga has influenced her mind, body, and life in general, and how it's helped her navigate through her academic studies and in the workplace. I was SO impressed with these findings that I knew Katie would be a perfect fit as a Diva. I also think some people (myself included) have a bit of a "question mark" when it comes to the idea of submerging themselves in a 100+ degree room for an hour, so I am always fascinated by the practice of hot yoga in general.

Katie and her beautiful gal pals

THIS JUST IN - From Katie :)

1. When did you first start practicing hot yoga? How did you learn/hear about it?

I started practicing hot yoga a few years back through a friend’s recommendation. That friend and I just finished a sprint triathlon training program and thought this would complement our exercise regimen. Plus, we found a really cheap deal so why not try it, right?

2. How long have you been practicing hot yoga? Where do you go, and how often do you practice?

Since I’ve been back in Seattle, I practice 5-6 days per week at Lakeview Yoga and Wellness Center in Kenmore.

3. How do you feel hot yoga contributes to your overall wellness?

At the moment, patience is the most salient idea influencing my overall wellness. I try to remind myself that I have the ability to find calmness is any situation. I’ve learned how to bring down my heart rate to better manage test anxiety and nervousness during public speaking (I won’t say I had stage freight prior to yoga but who doesn’t get a bit nervous in front of a crowd?) The combination of the heat, the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises in Bikram yoga have helped me practice patience. Also, the encouragement of attending class on a daily basis has helped me practice self-discipline, something of which I need A LOT of practice. Of course, my body feels wonderful and my core strength has significantly increased.

4. How would you respond to people who are hesitant about the hot yoga concept, or thinking about trying it out but not sure how/where to start?

For those who are interested: just show up. Don’t over think it. People over think so many things—myself included. Yoga is simple. Just show up.

If you’re worried about the heat but are curious as to why people would voluntarily put themselves into a 100+ degree room, just go and try it. If that sounds like the worst thing in the world, hot yoga probably isn’t the type of yoga for you. There are many different kinds of yoga and there is likely a better fit out there.

5. Anything else you'd like to add?

Let it be known that I am not a hard-core master “yogini”. I’m continually learning about myself, my body—trying to ‘show up for myself.’ ;)

...

THANK YOU, KATIE! I've been to hot yoga once and did survive it, so I just might be inspired to try it out in the near future - without over-thinking it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Reflection


[Sidebar / Quick Intro]
When it comes to the topic of "Spirituality" I am intentional about NOT writing posts that come across as a "campaign" for my faith. That being said, my (Christian) faith is a big part of who I am, and I believe that people of different religions share core values that can inspire each other and guide our lives in a positive way.
...

I wanted to share a small part of my experience this weekend during a somewhat large Christian holiday :). On Sunday, I went to church with my parents for Easter. During the Sermon, our Pastor talked about when Mary Magdalene and the women who witnessed Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. She talked (yes, she - rock on, Episcopalians!) about how afraid and devastated the women were throughout the experience - but despite their fears, they decided to have faith and push through, and trust that things were happening exactly as they should.

I felt a sense of peace hearing these words on Sunday. The story of Mary Magdalene and the experiences of the disciples' in the Resurrection can serve as a powerful reminder (any day) that even though life can be scary, sometimes the best thing we can do is to push through and trust. Trust that good plans are in store for us. Trust that despite our fears, grief, sadness, and troubles, that we are learning and will become stronger people in the end.

On that note, I wanted to share two quotes. The first is one of my favorite verses in the Bible which has brought me tremendous comfort during difficult times in my life. The second is a beautiful poem I came across online that I just LOVE!

Happy Monday!

Philippians 4: 4-7 (New International Version, 2011)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

To Believe Is to Know (by Ali Ibrahim)

To believe is to know that every day is a new beginning.
It is to trust that miracles happen, and dreams really do come true.

To believe is to see angels dancing among the clouds,

To know the wonder of a stardust sky and the wisdom of the man in the moon.

To believe is to know the value of a nurturing heart,

The innocence of a child's eyes and the beauty of an aging hand,
for it is through their teachings we learn to love.
To believe is to find the strength and courage that lies within us.

When it is time to pick up the pieces and begin again.

To believe is to know we are not alone,

That life is a gift and this is our time to cherish it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Awesome morning

This morning, I met up with my wonderful friend, Katie, for a walk down the Burke Gilman Trail in Lake Forest Park. Boy was it worth it! After weeks (oh wait...months) of crappy weather, the sun woke me up at 6:50 am - and I was okay with it. Back at home, it's now 61 and sunny, with no clouds in the sky, I am on Cloud 9. So is Lucy :).

I am so appreciative of the fact that I could start my morning with a healthy walk in the sunshine, overlooking Lake Washington, and with a wonderful friend (and furry companion).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quote of the Day: Transformation Insight

I recently came across this quote in the Bio of a yoga instructor that I'm a fan of (Jay Holby at 8 Limbs Yoga)

"The main block to transformation is the thought that we shouldn't be where we are, that we should already be further along in our growth than we perceive ourselves to be." - Swami Kripalu (Source)

I really like this insight. I can think of many times when I've been working toward a goal, and become frustrated that I'm not there yet or haven't made as much progress as I think I "should" have. Ultimately, transformation should involve recognizing the small changes, and celebrating the mini milestones/achievements in our lives.

Friend Shout Out: Celeste

QT with Celeste at Bick's Broadview Grill (one of my favorites!) a couple years ago...

Today I am posting a "shout out" to a close friend of mine, Celeste. I have known Celeste since 8th grade, when we played on the same club volleyball team. We went to high school together, and then parted ways in college. After college, Celeste stayed in CA and I stayed in WA. A few months ago, Celeste had the best news ever: she was moving back to Seattle!

After what has been a rough month (or two) for me, I have been continually reminded of how THANKFUL I am for Celeste's friendship. Here are a few reasons why (of many):

1. Celeste makes me laugh all the time. She is so funny...and random - and it's one of my favorite things about her.
2. Celeste is always honest with me, and is always able to be totally blunt without offending me.
3. Celeste is always herself - and nothing else (just ask her about the time she did a headstand in front of her entire legal department at work - note: a couple weeks after being hired).
4. Celeste knows what she wants and isn't afraid to chase after it.
5. Celeste loves yoga and has always encouraged me to practice - and goes with me to yoga!
6. When I'm going through a rough time, Celeste is always there to listen and give advice.
7. Celeste has always supported me and my work - she even signed up to volunteer at my non-profit's big event this month!
8. Celeste is always friendly and welcoming to new people.
9. Celeste is a VERY kind friend - she always treats me with respect and is pleasant to be around. This "friendship quality" has become more and more important to me over the years...
10. Every time I hang out with Celeste, we pick up where we left off and have a great time!

Thank you, Celeste, for being such a great friend in my life. I love you! P.S. "Om...recently!?"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

QW Pillar 5: Exercise


The fifth Pillar of Quantum Wellness is more of a traditional health factor - Exercise.

Freston states: "By maintaining a moderate amount of exercise in your daily life (at least 30 minutes three to six times a week), you can significantly improve your overall well-being" (QW, 32).

Very true. Let's hope people have heard that message by now...

Kathy also adds: "When you breathe deeply, you relax your nervous system. Your blood also travels more efficiently to distribute essential nutrients throughout your entire system. And when you sweat, your perspiration detoxifies your body, helping to rinse out of your system all sorts of impurities that otherwise might have lingered."

Jillian Michaels truly deserves to be featured in this post...right Marianne? (Photo Source)

I love the idea of rinsing out your system and feeling like you're in a healthier, purer place after exercise. I'll admit that I've been inconsistent about getting tough workouts in for a while, but am hoping to get into a routine in upcoming months, especially as the weather improves and I work my way through my 20 yoga classes!

Tomorrow morning I look forward to having an awesome workout at the gym - and am making a goal to really push myself. After all, it's my favorite way to start the day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wine Finding: Abbey Page


Tonight I'm drinking a fantastic Pinot Grigio made by the Abbey Page Winery in McMinnville, OR ($12.99 at Ken's Market). I am thrilled that I picked something I love - there's always that moment where you worry whether or not you should have stuck with one of your regular wines instead of trying something new. So cheers to that!

Candles


For the past few weeks, I've been in the habit of lighting candles after I get home from work. I bought some beautiful pillar candles (made by Vance Kitira) from a neighborhood gift shop down the street the other weekend, and have been very happy with my purchase!

I've learned that when I light candles, I stop what I'm doing and think about the beauty and calm that surrounds me - even on a stressful day.  Such an easy stress reducer!

Having an off night? Grab a blanket, glass of wine, a favorite movie, and light some candles. Go find your calm!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gal Pal Study Findings

Showing my support of this article: 80s night with gal pals in Seattle last Summer...

Today I received an email from my friend Sarah (also known as our first Wellness Diva). It brought up some interesting points!

...

This came to me in an emails this morning….A thought to share…..

"I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection–the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin–a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings?–rarely. Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged–not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.”

So there you have it!

Source: http://annetteshealthaction.com/Test/wp/blog/?p=313

Thanks for sharing, Sarah!!

Yoga Finding #1: Shoulders

Triangle Pose (Photo Source)

This morning I attended my first of 20 yoga classes. The instructor was - frankly - a complete weirdo, but a very nice guy.

During one of the poses (Triangle), he came over and said to me "your shoulders are working too hard." I kind of laughed to myself, as it was no surprise that I was working too hard at something in yoga class (out of all things). He instructed me to relax my shoulders so that I could open up my back and breathe more. This was great advice.

Moving forward, I am going to be more intentional about taking moments (during the work day) to correct my posture, relax my shoulders, and breathe. It's so easy to build up tension when you're sitting around for 8 hours each day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Daphne effect

At the front entrance of my building, there is a beautiful Daphne plant that blooms once each year (to my knowledge). It smells so incredible that friends have told me they stop to smell the plant when they're in my neighborhood. Each time I pass by the plant, I feel a sense of calm and a moment of appreciation for the present, aware of the natural beauty surrounding me.

This week - take a moment to pause life and appreciate something small - a beautiful sunrise, the sound of children laughing, the smell of a home cooked meal, or a hug from a loved one. I promise, it will help you get through the week!

The Yoga Adventure

Note: my goal is to perfect this pose someday! (Photo Source)

I've been practicing yoga (on and off) for roughly 5 years. I'll admit that I regret the times in which I stopped practicing. Even though certain elements of yoga (such as the chanting and the 'antics' of certain practitioners in the room...aka Seattle weirdos) are not for me, I firmly believe that Yoga is one of the best things anyone can do for their overall health - mental, emotional, and physical - and even spiritual. When I am actively practicing yoga, I feel calmer, more confident, more flexible, stronger, and my back pain goes away within just weeks of practicing. These are just a few of the benefits.

Recently I received a pretty awesome coupon via email to get a big discount off the 20 Class Pass from 8 Limbs Yoga. I decided to purchase it last week, and the adventure will start today! In upcoming weeks, my goal is to report on what I'm learning about yoga after each class I attend through sharing these "Yoga Findings." My good friend, Celeste, also is planning on getting the 20 Class Pass - so some of the insights might also come from her as well!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vacation Appreciation


On Thursday, I got on a plane to go to Scottsdale, AZ, to meet my cousin, Robin. Robin is one of my closest friends and I've always considered her "the big sister I never had." I was beyond excited to get away (to lay by the pool in 85 + sunny weather) and spend some QT with Robin.

We had a great time (no surprise). The highlight of the trip was Saturday evening. We started off the night at the Terrior Wine Pub, just across the street from our resort (The Scottsdale Plaza). We had the best wine (and were especially impressed by the most generous pours we had ever seen in our wine drinking careers) and the yummiest food (including Brushetta and Lavosh, the latter which I am going to re-create at home). After the Wine Pub we stopped by the frozen yogurt place and then walked back to the hotel to soak our feet in the hot tub. Robin remarked: "I don't understand why the poolside bar is closed! I would totally get a drink right now" (note, it was 11:30 pm - but you have to give her some credit).

During the (sad) ride to the airport in the morning, Robin and I concluded how happy we were to spend four days doing absolutely nothing, without any plans - and how important it is to make time for that kind of time! Thursday through Saturday consisted of sleeping in until 9:00 am, a morning walk to Starbucks, hanging out at the pool from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (note: lots of wine + fab food + People Magazines + crappy novels daily), evening meals outside, and then movie nights in. We particularly enjoyed watching No Strings Attached on Friday evening, in honor of our cousin, Olivia Thirlby, who played a supporting role. Go, Olivia!


In conclusion, I am truly grateful that I was able to spend QT with Robin, and take time to do nothing for a few days - in 85 degree weather.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How it feels to fly


One of my favorite songs by Alicia Keys is called "How it Feels to Fly." When I first heard this song, it really resonated with me - not only because it's beautiful, but I was inspired by a particular part of the song:

"If I can touch the sky,
I'd risk the fall
 
Just to know how it feels to fly"

Sometimes life is, frankly - scary. When we're anxious about a part of our life - whether it's a relationship, our role at work, or even running a half marathon - sometimes we become so hesitant to take risks and put ourselves out there because we don't know where the road will take us. It might end in disappointment, grief, frustration, or confusion. Pushing through things (not knowing the outcome) can be uncomfortable, but most often (when you look back) it's well worth it in the end. Ultimately, our life plans are not up to us anyway (this is my personal belief).

I hope you'll enjoy listening to this song! Goodnight.

Wellness Diva #3: Mariko (The Rock Climber)


Introducing our third Wellness Diva: Miss Mariko Harman

I met Mariko when we were awkward 14-year-old's at Holy Names Academy in Seattle. While we had a couple classes together during high school, it was only until after college that we became great friends. A couple years ago, I was working out at 24 Hour Fitness on the stair climber when I felt a huge SLAP on my ass. I turned around to catch the perpetrator, and it was Mariko - who I hadn't seen in about six years! We chatted for a while and realized our conversation needed to continue outside of the gym. Soon we started hanging out each month and became close friends. Sounds a bit romantic, doesn't it? I'll admit, Mariko IS really hot.


WHY I LOVE MARIKO:

Mariko is one of my most favorite friends. What I always come back to when I think about Mariko and my appreciation for our friendship, is that every time we hang out, I walk away feeling energized, refreshed, happy, and appreciated. Mariko is incredibly honest, energetic, fun, caring, and sincere. She is BEAUTIFUL - both inside and out. Everything we do - whether it's going for a walk, meeting for happy hour, or sitting on a couch for a talk with a glass of wine - is fun. We treat each other with respect, kindness, and there's always positive energy when we're together. I can share anything with Mariko without feeling judged - knowing that she will still tell me what she thinks. In fact, I think I am more honest with Mariko than any other friend I have. Mariko contributes to my wellness, as a friend, more than she'll ever know. So thank you, Mariko - you are such a blessing in my life...and please, move back to Seattle. Thank you.

ABOUT ROCK CLIMBING:

As I got to know Mariko better, I quickly found out about one of her greatest passions in life - rock climbing. Mariko rock climbs all the time, and I have always been so impressed and fascinated by her dedication to the sport. In fact, one of her essays for graduate school applications (that I was honored to read!) was about rock climbing and the impact the sport has on her life! I knew that Mariko would be the perfect fit for one of my Wellness Divas.

Amazing woman + amazing day for climbing!

Q& A WITH MARIKO:

1. When did you first start rock climbing? Where do you go now? How often to you practice, on average?

I first started climbing in the beginning of 2009. Now, I go to Mission Cliffs in San Francisco and am planning a Yosemite trip to take advantage of the outdoors in Northern California. For the past two years I've practiced three times a week, but now that I've moved and with my workload, it's just once a week. Ouch! Not an ideal situation, but there's give and take with this one and I'll take what I can get.

2. What are your favorite things about rock climbing?

Aww man. There are so many things I love about climbing. I love that I get to learn so much about my friends/partners and am put in situations with them where we both have to trust each other...with our lives essentially. The bond you develop with your partner is so unique. There was one particularly scary climb in Mazama, WA. It was super sketchy and I'm massively afraid of heights (hence why I climb..ha). I kept looking out at the view during the climb, but would then have stomach turning anxiety when I realized how high I was. Several times I wanted to come down, and my partner knew it, but she kept encouraging me, telling me I could do it and that she "had me". I finished the climb and it was super rad. As soon as my feet hit the deck I immediately hugged my partner, because she was "up there" with me too. Just one example.

I love that climbing is very strategic - before we get on the rock we map out potential obstacles in the climb and how we can move forward through them. It's also a sport where safety is taken very seriously and constantly practiced.

I love that when I climb I feel free. I'm free of whatever work project I'm on, I'm free of any stress from a relationship, I'm free from anything that normally may consume my thoughts. When one climbs, you have to focus so much and get into your "zen". This requires a mandatory emptiness and calmness within you. You really can't think about anything else but what you're doing that very moment. It is a great practice of presence and observation of the moment.

3. How do you feel rock climbing contributes to your overall wellness (physical, emotional, mental, etc.)?

Climbing is equally physical and mental. Physically, it requires me to keep my body proportionate (just makes it easier) and haul my own body weight. Mentally, it requires me to observe my fears and not let them debilitate me. Letting fear consume you can actually put you in a potentially dangerous situation. That's why it's important to embrace and observe your fears - learn to work through them and move forward. Accept your fears as a part of the process and learn perseverance and equanimity.

4. What recommendations do you have for people who might be interested in trying out rock climbing (ie - how to get started)?

If anyone wants to get started climbing, I highly recommend going to their local climbing gym and take a beginners class. To my knowledge, all gyms require newcomers to take the beginners class to learn basic safety. Take the safety seriously. Once safety is down you're all set for your first climb. Most important - have fun!

Thank you for sharing, Mariko! You are an inspiration to many, and I love you! :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cat & Dolphin

I came across this video on Facebook, and will admit - it absolutely warmed my heart. Evening MADE. Cheesy, but so true. There is something to be said about the love and trust shown between these two unlikely friends.

QW Pillar 4: Conscious Eating


The fourth wellness pillar in Quantum Wellness is Conscious Eating. This topic occupies a larger part of the book, as Freston talks about doing a 21 Day Cleanse in Chapter 5 (later, I will talk about this Cleanse and my experiences with what I call my 'modified 21 day cleanse' :).

In short, Freston explains: "It's crucial for your overall wellness that you give your body good fuel and that you bring awareness to your food choices" (QW, 31).

It's so important to think about what we are putting in our bodies each day. This doesn't mean striving for perfection, but being conscious about what we're eating (more often than not), the nutritional value of our food, the portions we're eating, and where our food came from.

During grace (before dinner) my good friend Marianne always says "thank you for this food and the hands that prepared it." For the record, I have always loved this prayer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Finding a Focus Point for the Week


On Sunday nights, I almost always have a thumbs down moment when I think about starting the work week (even though I truly love my job). To put a positive spin on things, I think about something positive I can do for myself outside of work. In doing so, I like to establish a "focus point" for the week - something I want to prioritize.

This week I'm challenging you to pick a focus point. There are TONS of options, but I recommend picking something feasible. Examples:
  • Doing something active for just 20 mins each day
  • Getting 8 hrs of sleep every night
  • Keeping your kitchen or room clean all week
  • Meditating for 5 minutes each day
  • Saying a prayer every morning before you get out of bed
  • Going to yoga class 2 times
  • Scheduling one night just to yourself
  • Taking a load of clothes/household items to Goodwill
  • Journaling every night
Once you decide what your week's focus point will be, write it in the comment field below. I'll be sharing these ideas on an upcoming post!

This week my focus point will exercising each day, which will include exercising my dog. She deserves it too!

I love beer :)


Anyone who knows me knows that I truly love Beer. There is nothing like enjoying a beer with a friend at happy hour, in the evening at home, or on a hot Summer day.

I am somewhat of a Beer snob, in that I love trying the hundreds of microbrews that WA state has to offer (and laugh when I go to other states that have NO microbrews or other varieties on tap - it just kills me). However, don't get me wrong - I am known for stocking my fridge with Miller Lite (just happen to love it).

I like almost all kinds of beers - from Pale Ales, to Ambers, to IPAs, to Stouts, and Pilsners. My favorite of the year has been Porters. Many people see the dark color and assume that Porters are the strongest, richest, most hoppy beers out there but they are NOT. They are so pleasant and tasty - especially once you start drinking more of them. In fact, I convinced a friend of mine who is typically a "Hefeweizen only" girl to have a Porter with me this Summer, and she loved it (this was a proud friend moment).

Tonight I am drinking one of my favorites - the Black Butte Porter from the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR (road trip, anyone?). Would definitely recommend trying it out! I happily purchased a 6 pack this evening from Safeway for only 7 bucks.

I believe that beer, in moderation, is a total wellness factor. So cheers to that!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dance off in Kitchen


Yesterday after work, I was needing a mood & energy booster while I cleaned my kitchen. I decided to go to youtube and search for one of my favorite dance songs of all times - "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa. If you don't know this song - you need to get to know it. Cheesy and Ridiculous? Yes. Awesome and Fantastic? YES.

Note: There is nothing wrong with rocking out by yourself while doing dishes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

QW Pillar 3: Fun Activities


The third pillar in Quantum Wellness is Fun Activities. I'll keep this one brief - it's definitely important, but self explanatory.

Freston explains: "Planning a fun activity gives you something to look forward to and then a precious memory to fondly look back on. Sometimes when you are trying to work on your health, you forget that the most important thing is to love life. If things get too serious or strenuous, you will feel overwhelmed and lose momentum. Just made a habit of doing something really fun and lighthearted at least once a day; these moments or hours of sheer delight will keep lifting your level of energy for the rest of the week" (QW, 30-31).

I love how Kathy says that the most important thing is to love life - so true. When I don't make anytime for fun activities throughout a typical week, whether it's by myself or with the people I love, I get run down and discontent - even if I'm exercising, eating healthy, and working hard.

So - if you haven't done so already, schedule something fun for today for YOURSELF. :).

Running in the Rain

Note: I wear fitness gear when I run - but this is such a cute photo :) (Photo source)

This morning, my workout at the gym turned into a walk with my dog, which turned into a run with my dog...in the rain.

As much as people may complain about it raining in Seattle, there are few times that it's too cold to run. Not only that, but a light shower while you're pushing through your third mile can actually be refreshing, calming, cleansing, and motivating!

Lucy didn't seem to mind the rain today. In fact, she's running all around my condo right now, rolling around, making hilarious noises, and having a blast (by herself). All in all, a great way to start the day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wellness Diva #2: Ashley (The Fitness Rockstar)


Due to your rave reviews about our first Wellness Diva feature (yay Sarah!), I've decided to expedite things and get going with Diva #2 - Ashley O'Hagan!

Ashley and I met during preseason for volleyball at St. Olaf College. Ashley was from Red Wing, MN and I was from Seattle, and we ended up on the same floor of the same Freshman dorm. Ashley quickly became one of my closest friends. Not only was she an incredible teammate and friend, but her wonderful family took me under their wings within a month of school, inviting me to stay with them over the Thanksgiving Holiday. I still (to this day) am so grateful for their generosity and love.

(L to R): Ashley and her amazing sisters: Jamie, Lindsay, Ashley, and Katie (yes, Ashley & Lindsay are twins!)

About the Fitness Rockstar

Ashley and I played (and trained for) college volleyball together for two years. One thing I learned from Ashley (amongst many other things) is that she is beyond dedicated to staying in shape and taking care of herself. I still remember one day when we were working out at the gym, and I watched Ashley kill herself (in a good way) on the treadmill for an hour. I said, "Ashley, you push yourself SO hard every time we come here!" Ashley smiled and said "I know...my motto is, if I'm going to take the time to come to the gym and workout, why not go all out every time?"

Ashley's words of wisdom stuck with me for years, and I think of her each time I go on a run, go to the gym, or do something active. If I aim for 20 minutes on a machine, I think "why not make it 30?" If I go for a run, I think "why not run just one more mile, or sprint the last stretch?"

Let's hear from Ashley:

1. What do you do to exercise/stay active these days? What is your favorite activity and why?

I belong to Lifetime Fitness, a gym here in Minnesota. I love, love, love their group classes that they offer. My favorite classes are cardio kickboxing, yoga sculpt (yoga with weights) and total conditioning (cardio and weightlifting in one!). I try to go to one of each class per week. I love group classes, because they keep me motivated for an entire hour workout, they are fun and the time goes by quickly! I also like to run outdoors (when it is nice out) and I play in a volleyball league once a week.

2. As a nurse, do you feel your profession contributes to your attitude toward your own wellness? If yes, why?

As a nurse, I am exposed to a variety of illnesses and diseases. I have a good understanding of how they affect your body due to poor diet or lack of exercise. I have also developed a deeper appreciation for being healthy, because I take care of ill children every day. This in turn motivates me daily to do something good for my body which I am thankful to have.

3. Why/how do you feel exercise contributes to your overall wellness?

After I am done exercising I instantly feel better than before I started and I am always in a better mood. I feel better about myself and have a natural high. Also, on the days I workout, I make better choices and eat healthier throughout the day which in turn makes me feel even better! I think exercise is just the beginning to overall wellness.

4. Anything else you'd like to add?

Being healthy is a choice you make day in and day out. I do think it is important to take days off of exercise and have a cheat day once in a while to splurge on ice cream or pizza. Everything is good in moderation! Too much of any one thing is bad...yes even too many carrots or working out too hard or long. Even little bouts of anything active is better than nothing!

Ashley and her husband, Sean, surfing in CA! (Congrats to Ash & Sean on their marriage in September 2010!)

Ashley - thank you for being an inspiration to me and so many others! My current plan is to have an AWESOME morning workout tomorrow...in your honor :).