Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beautiful yoga poses

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It's amazing what the body can do if you put your mind to it!  Here's to more yoga over the holidays...

Remembering the little treats that make you happy!


This afternoon I headed home after a great massage and decided that I should continue the relaxation theme well into the evening.  I proceeded to take a fantastic bath (along with some Bailey's on the rocks, of course), which was heavenly.  I then lit some candles and my Christmas tree and decided to watch It's Complicated and cook a healthy dinner (of course, with some red wine).

Needless to say, this evening has been a great one.  It reminded me that I should take advantage of the simple but great things that make me happy more often.  I now feel so much more relaxed and ready for the week.  Now it's time for Love Actually :).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Getting back on track DURING the holidays


While some people tend to over indulge during the holidays, I like to view the holidays as an opportunity to make time for myself and my health - to eat healthy, get great sleep, and exercise often.  For the past month, I've been feeling a bit all over the place - being sick, then not sick, then sick again.  More often than normal I am reacting to certain foods, and feel a bit nauseous after I eat them.  My appetite hasn't been the same either.  While I'm generally great about eating healthy and working out, I know my diet has been a bit all over the place and I haven't had a consistent exercise schedule.

Getting Back on Track

1. Today I got up early and decided to head straight to the grocery store to do a large shopping trip - I am so glad I did.  I love having healthy options on hand at home and can't wait to (hopefully) feel back to normal again.  I started my day off with my favorite simple banana and spinach smoothie and look forward to a healthy lunch soon.

2.  To be proactive with exercise, I am going to schedule my daily exercise in advance, also keeping in mind gym closures and other obstacles.  I especially hope to get in a few great runs over the break.

3.  I am looking forward to a much needed massage tomorrow.  Getting regular (monthly) massages helps me feel more calm and happy, and is a great reward for keeping up with my goals.

4.  Over the break, I am going to read Break Through Your Set Point (I found it online on Amazon the other year but never managed to read it until now).  When I'm wanting to stay focused on my health goals, I find that reading a health book provides great guidance and keeps me inspired to live a healthy lifestyle.

How can you make your health a priority over the holidays?

Monday, December 9, 2013

LOTS to catch up on!


The other day I was thinking about how I hadn't blogged for a while.  I just discovered that "a while" was since September 15th!  In all my years blogging, this is definitely the longest I've gone without doing a post.  Not bad - just interesting...

In an effort to summarize the last three months, here are a few happenings and life lessons:

FITNESS
My (Summer) Health Challenge proved to be a big success!  Not only did I lose at least two inches everywhere along with 7 pounds, I learned what it felt like to truly be in an exercise routine and crave workouts every day.  My mantra was to make exercise a priority every day - whether it was a short walk around the neighborhood or tough workout at the gym.  During the month of August (and most of September) I worked out daily.  Let me tell you, it felt so healthy!  I was so proud of myself for really honoring my commitment to my health, which even included daily runs and gym workouts when I was on vacation.  For me, regular workouts are not about the # on the scale - they are about how I FEEL when I'm taking care of myself.  I love the ripple effect of the "inward healthy feel" that regular fitness provides. 

SANS BOOZE
I ended up giving up alcohol for 21 days straight, which was a definite challenge for me.  It proved to be truly difficult on only 3 particular days.  I ended up losing 7 lbs during those 21 days alone, which was eye opening (and a bit comical and embarrassing at the same time).  More importantly, it reaffirmed my belief in the following: portion control is everything.  Getting rid of something entirely is not always necessary, but when you consume something enough so that it no longer is a treat and you feel unhealthy, it's not the best choice.  I am glad that I challenged myself to take break from booze, but I also know that I love my wine and beer, and there's nothing wrong with a glass a day :).

BOOKS
I read a few books, including The Shack.  I bought this book years ago and for some reason never read it.  I particularly loved the book because it was so affirming for me in regard to my faith and what I believe it's all about - for me.  It brought me peace.  I am thankful for this.

FRIEND CLEANSE
I've still been Facebook free since May!  It has gone well.  Per usual, the things I've missed have been seeing photos of friends and family who are out of town, and being invited to fun events in Seattle.  I took the liberty of activating (and later deactivating) my profile on Saturday for a few hours to do a "friend cleanse."  I decided to do a big sweep of my Facebook friends to identify people I still haven't been in touch with, who are no longer an active part of my life.  I was able to go from 1105 to around 750 friends (for me this is sadly an accomplishment).  I am considering re-joining Facebook over the holidays but still feel somewhat hesitant and unclear about what I ultimately want.  Perhaps I'll do a one month stint and report back here...

TRAVEL PERKS
In November, I took a trip to Washington, D.C. for work and to visit family and friends who live there.  It was a great time seeing my cousins (Laura and Amy) and close friends (Seth and Anna).  They are a blessing in my life.  Every time I get on an airplane, I love the feeling of getting away from home.  It forces me to stop, pause, and just be present - to take time for myself to reflect on my life and (physically) remove myself from the chaos of life at home.  Frankly, I love living out of a nice hotel room for a few days.  I cherish these moments.  I hope I can afford to get away more often in 2014!

BABY ON BOARD!
Last week my close friend Marianne gave birth to her first child - a beautiful baby girl, Brenna.  It was truly an incredible feeling visiting Marianne later that day at the hospital and meeting Brenna.  I got to hold her for an hour, and did a good job keeping it together!  It made me realize how fast time flies, and how beautiful life is.  It's an amazing thing to be part of that journey with a close friend.  I can't wait for more Auntie Margie moments down the road.

BEAUTIFUL MARRIAGE
In October, my good friend Maria got married to her now husband, Jared.  I was truly honored to be one of only three bridesmaids that day.  The wedding was really special.  Everything about the wedding reflected Maria and Jared's values, and one of the best moments of the night (besides the obvious "I do's") was when Maria got to dance with her Grandpa in front of her loved ones.  Maria and I have been through a few journeys together in the realm of love, and it was very rewarding to see everything come to fruition in such a beautiful way.

LUCY RULES. PERIOD.
My dog is awesome.  She is kind, loving, and a total trooper.  Through thick and thin, she is there for me.  There are many moments where I look at her and say: "I have no idea how I would have gotten through today without you!"  Thank you, Lucy.  You are the best.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Facing vulnerability

Brene Brown - one of my favorite people (Photo Source)

For the past week or so, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of vulnerability.  If I had to sum it up in my own words, vulnerability is about letting go of your need to be perfect, letting your guard down, and courageously working through the parts of our lives that make us feel uncomfortable.  Why?  By pushing through the discomfort, you can find greater connection and love with others, and yourself.

My interest in exploring vulnerability started with my friend's recommendation to watch a TED Talk video by Brene Brown about the power of vulnerability.  I was already familiar with Brene Brown's work, through reading her book, The Gifts of Imperfection (which is one of the best books I've ever read).  I watched the TED Talk video on Tuesday morning and it really moved me.  I was so excited about the messages throughout the video that I decided to share it with a few friends and dive in a bit more....

Last night I had my friend Rachel over for dinner.  I was glad Rachel was able to come over because I had been feeling anxious and down inside that day, and needed the company - especially on a Saturday night.  I shared with her about about the video.  We sat there for 20 minutes and watched it, and afterwards we engaged in one of the most authentic, real conversations I'd had with anyone in a LONG time.  Rachel shared with me about her challenges with work and dealing with terminally ill patients - and having to be strong all the time in order to care for them, and bottling up all of her pain and empathy that she felt for them.  Rachel shared stories about a few patients that brought both of us to tears.  I was able to share some of my worries and pains as well.  I was so grateful that this conversation happened.  It needed to happen - for both of us. 

The coolest part of last night was that after Rachel left, I no longer felt sad or alone.  I felt at peace, happy, content, and relaxed.  I went to bed and got the best 9 hours of sleep I've had in a weeks.  I woke up this morning feeling confident about the day ahead.  It was as if my anxiety just went away.

How often do you try to numb the painful or fearful emotions you have inside?  What do you think would happen if you stopped the numbing and leaned into the discomfort?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sober September updates: finding my stomach


Today is Day 10 of my month long alcohol free challenge.  It has gone really well and I'm feeling very proud of myself for sticking to something that is difficult for me, and believing I can do it (the latter I've learned is the most important thing).

I've had two key observations this week about this challenge:

1.  You have to learn how to face "end of the day stress" with your heart and mind, not alcohol (or whatever your go-to-not-as-healthy habit may be). 

The last two days of work have been pretty brutal for me.  I have a lot on my plate and have been working under a major grant deadline and planning for my organization's annual fundraiser.  On my drive home from work on Tuesday, I felt absolutely drained and thought "I could really use a drink." I was on my way to a book release party for a family friend, John Hamilton, at a really fun bar in Ballard with great beer and cocktails.  I am pretty sure I was the only living soul in the bar without a drink in hand during John's reading and celebration.  It definitely took some mental power to not order a drink, but I stuck to it, talked through my feelings with my parents, and on my drive home I was happy I wasn't running on a pint and got to bed on time. 

2.  I am starting to really feel my abs.

One of my insecure body zones is my stomach area.  My stomach is simply my go-to fat storage area on my body, and that's okay, but it's frustrating.  One of my biggest hopes in this challenge is to lose fat/inches around my waist area - both for my personal confidence and for my health.  This morning I put my hands on my waist and could feel my muscles WAY better than I could last month.  I thought, "this is why I work so hard to do abs at the gym - so I can actually feel them!"

Happy Thursday!  More later...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Facebook revisited


On May 9th, I decided to deactivate my Facebook account for a number of reasons - primarily, for greater privacy in my life and better use of my time.  I can't believe that it's already been 4 months since then!

Lately I've been asked by a lot of people if I'll ever rejoin Facebook, and my response is consistently "I don't know."  I've been happy with my experience, but I miss having Facebook specifically to communicate with close friends and relatives who live out of state.  With my Seattle friends, I can see them whenever I'd like and don't need Facebook for photos and regular life updates.  I also miss not being in the loop about events going on.  While my friends have gone a pretty good job keeping me in the loop, I've missed receiving invitations to a variety of events.  I really enjoyed organizing events with friends on Facebook, especially during the holidays and the Summer months. 

As far as what I've learned or do know - I know who my closest friends are.  The concept of Facebook "friends" is truly an interesting one - A majority of my "friends" on Facebook have not communicated with me since I gave up Facebook, and I'll admit I haven't reached out to them either.  While I do think that there's something to be said about Facebook serving as an actual tool for regular communication these days (ex: some people prefer Facebook over email), I have discovered the friends who have taken the time to call or email me to ask how I'm doing, or invite me to events going on.  To no surprise, these are the same group of people I imagined would follow through when I went into this whole thing.  Kudos, my friends.

Who knows...if I do go back, I will be doing a significant "friend" detox and I also will be more conscientious about the time I spend on Facebook, and not allowing negative energy to transpire.  It's just not worth it!

Until next time...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A new challenge: alcohol free living

 Photo Source

This post is dedicated to my friends Shawna and Anna :)

On this blog I've talked about "scaling back" on a number of things - Facebook, sweets, TV time, junk food, and more.  However, I've never talked about nixing the big A.  This Tuesday, I started what I regard as one of my most interesting personal challenges of 2013.  You may laugh, but I'm totally serious.

If you know me or read my blog, you know that I love beer and wine...and not just tasting it - I am actually passionate about beer and wine.  I love learning about the process of making wine and brewing beer.  I pride myself on having a great palate - I can identify almost any varietal of wine (or beer), can easily choose pairings for meals.  I love coming home from a long day of work and sitting down to enjoy a glass of wine and reflect on my day.  As Benjamin Franklin (supposedly) once said: "Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried with fewer tensions and more tolerance" (Source).  Well said, Mr. Franklin.

I also love the stories and moments formed in the presence of wine.  From wine tasting with friends in Sonoma, the Willamette Valley, and Colorado, to celebrating birthdays and holidays with loved ones, to toasting to the end to a major event at work, to my earliest wine memories (aka "Franzia days") in college - I smile thinking of these precious memories.  A lot of laughter ensues when you're having a glass of wine with friends, and it's hard to put a price on that.

Despite all of this, this year I started becoming more and more curious about the role alcohol plays in my life, and what could be the result of taking a break from it.  I thought about how often I "encounter" drinking - whether it's a birthday party, summer BBQ, wedding, vacation, dinner with my family, an evening work meeting, or happy hour with friends.  I realized that since most of these occasions happen every week, it's rare to find a day where I'm not presented with an opportunity to drink.  I also discovered that it's rare for me to pause and thoughtfully consider whether or not I really want and need a drink - it's more of a habit that I've become accustomed to.  In short, I wondered if the "too much of a good thing" theory might be relevant.  As my mind continued to wander, I felt more and more inspired about the idea of challenging myself to give up drinking for a significant period of time.  Suddenly I found myself committed to going for an entire month sans alcohol. 


WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO

I've thought a lot about the potential rewards of this month if I honor my commitment - fingers crossed the following will happen:

1. Re-learning how to make drinks a treat - not a daily indulgence.

2. Getting better sleep.

3. Losing weight (as a healthy eater and exerciser, I am fairly certain that cutting the alcohol calories will do me this favor).  More importantly - shrinking my waistline (I took measurements last weekend).

4. Processing and addressing how I'm really feeling without the effects of alcohol.

5. Having clearer skin.  As someone who's been blessed with nice skin for as long as I can remember, this year has not been good.  While it may also be hormonal, I speculate that nixing booze may help  my cause.  I came across an article about the effects of alcohol re: your skin: "Drinking regularly will depress your immune system and it is your immune system which helps keep the acne bacteria under control.  A weakened immune system will make it easier for bacteria to build up in your skin pores" (Source).

6. Challenging myself to be creative with the way I spend my free time.  It's not as if drinking consumes all of my free time, but as I mentioned earlier, it's the reality of most social and work plans.  I'm excited to experience more activities that support my wellness, like yoga classes, walks outside, and reading a book at the park.

7.  SAVING $!  Alcohol costs a ton of money, and I need to be saving more of it to begin with.  When I purchase wine at the grocery store and pay for drinks when I'm out to eat, it all adds up.  I love the idea of saving money and spending it on more meaningful things that will help me take better care of myself, such as treating myself to a manicure, or nicer produce at the store.

Over the next month I will most likely be doing a few blog posts highlighting my progress and what I've learned.  In the meantime, here are my findings thus far:


WEEK 1 FINDINGS

I started my alcohol detox on Tuesday (Sept 3rd) and it's honestly been a very interesting week.   The main thing I've appreciated is becoming more aware of my habits.  When I got home from work on Tuesday, I did my usual routine of setting my things down and heading into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine.  I stopped, paused, and said "wow." I realized that for the next month, that routine would end.  Instead, I poured myself a glass of cucumber basil water and sat down to hydrate and reflect on the day.  Later that evening, I went to my friend's house and had dinner sans wine while she had wine - another change.  I'll be honest in saying that I didn't feel the best that night and had a difficult time sleeping - and have thus far. 

Other "aha" moments this week have included getting an evening massage and coming home to drink water instead of wine, watching my favorite TV shows without wine, and passing on a happy hour with friends to run errands, go home, and take care of myself.  I've also lost 2 lbs and my skin is already looking better! Tonight I went out to the bar with my friends and stayed strong, even after the owner offered to buy me one on the house.  It was weird, but felt really rewarding driving home, not having drank anything and knowing I'd feel a lot better in the morning.

I know that the rest of this month will be much more challenging when I introduce football games, social events, and other evening meetings, but after just 4 days I can happily say "bring it on!"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Practicing gratitude


The other morning I was at the gym reading an old issue of Natural Health magazine.  I came across an article called "Count your blessings," which started with: "how regularly do you really see and celebrate the little gifts you're receiving - a glass of water, a huge, a ride, a smile - and count them as blessings?" (Natural Health, November 2010, p 15).  The article talked about cultivating the art of gratitude, and the benefits of it: "Gratitude works because it recruits other positive emotions - like joy, contentment and hope - that have direct physical benefits" (16). 

I loved this article because it reminded me how important it is to stop, pause, and reflect your blessings throughout the day.  I was at my gym on a machine facing the gorgerous waterfront view and thinking how lucky I was to afford a gym membership that I love, to live in a beautiful place, and to be of good health.  That same week, I had been a bit bogged down with some of my challenges, and realized how easy it is to get wrapped up in the negative if you aren't actively reminding yourself about the positive. 

The article had some energizing suggestions on how you can practice gratitude.  Two that I particularly liked:

1) You can keep a gratitude journal.  This is where each evening, your replay your day and write down the things you are grateful for.  I like the idea of taking time before you go to bed to think about all you are grateful for, and ending on such a positive note.  I hope to start this practice by starting small, and perhaps writing down just one thing each evening, such as a friendship, a great run, the food I ate for dinner, my job, something I learned, or whatever else comes to mind.

2) Celebrate Thanksgiving every day.  The author of this article talks about how before dinner, his family does a "what I'm grateful for" activity daily.  He said it has a positive impact on the rest of the meal and his family in general - I like it!

To close, I wanted to revisit a favorite quote of mine that reminds me of the larger purpose of gratitude:
 
“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence." 
-Og Mandino (Source)

Friday, August 30, 2013

When your body gives you a (much needed) rude awakening


Last night I went to the Seahawks game with my friend Jessica.  It was an awesome time and I felt so lucky to be there.  For those of you who know me, you know I LOVE football season.  Getting a ticket to a Seahawks game if you aren't a season ticket holder is close to impossible - needless to say, I was pumped.

The not awesome part of last night's game was when I was lying awake at 1:00 AM this morning feeling absolutely horrible.  At the game, I had two beers and (part of) a chicken and fries basket (the latter which did not taste like real food but appeared to be my only option at the time).  A few hours later, my body decided to really let me know how it felt about my eating decisions.  I had a headache, felt nauseous, and other details I won't mention here to keep this a pleasant and appropriate Friday morning.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that despite the frustrations of feeling sick for most of last night, my body did me a big favor - in a sort of cruel way.  When we say that it's best to listen to your body - this took that concept to a whole new level.  I hadn't had a processed/gross/junk food type meal in a while, and combined with most likely being dehydrated, this set off a chain reaction in my body.  It reminded me how much my body and I appreciate eating healthy, natural, whole foods for all my meals.  I deserve to feel great, inside and out.

In conclusion, I know what I will not be ordering the next time I go to a game!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The gift of an unexpected email


Today I was busy working at my desk and decided to take a quick email break.  I discovered a new email in my inbox from my friend Mariko, entitled "why I love you."  This was seriously the best surprise I could have ever asked for this week.  I wanted to share this incredibly thoughtful email with all of you:

you try your best, all the time. at work, for others, in life. it's a hard discipline to practice, and somehow you do so remarkably. you're a woman to look up to, truly.

regardless of how you're feeling inside, you're always kind, loving, and compassionate. every time i think of you, i get good feelings. and it's because of the way you've made me feel.

you are a deep thinker, but you don't let analyzation debilitate you. because you're practical and you go with what actually makes sense, in an informed way.

i am so proud of the woman that you are. it's hard holding it down as an independent, strong, and compassionate woman. 

despite the distance and the frequency by which we see each other, know i love you so much and i think of you often. 

p.s. i miss you!

I can't emphasize how much I appreciated this email, and how much I love my dear friend Mariko.  People always say that you never know how much a little gesture can impact a friend.  The reason why they say this is that it's true!  The timing of Mariko's email is a bit ironic.  In addition to going through a stressful time at work with a lot of added pressure to my role, I had been feeling a bit down about myself for reasons I won't dive into.  I found it so interesting that the particular qualities in myself I had been feeling insecure about were the exact same things Mariko mentioned loving about me!  How great does it feel to be affirmed about something that you may contemplate about yourself?

This week, consider taking 5 minutes out of your day to call, email, or text a friend to tell them you love them and why.  You never know how much he/she might need your support!

Thank you, Mariko - I love you!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Honoring the morning walk


For the past month, I have been very committed to my health - particularly, with exercise.  I have prioritized my morning (usually the gym or a run) workouts 7 days a week, every week, and have loved how much it's impacted my well being.  In short, feel stronger, healthier, and more at peace.  However, this morning I woke up and was not in the mood to drive to my gym or do one of my regular workouts.  What I really was craving was a walk with Lucy around my neighborhood - and so I did just that. 

It was so quiet in my neighborhood at 6:30 AM compared to my weekend 9:00 walks.  There was a cool breeze and the sky was beautiful.  It was great to walk around and reflect on the day ahead of me and what kind of a day I wanted to make it (obviously, a great one).

Lucy also definitely enjoyed the walk, which involved a break at a little park for her to run around in circles like a crazy lady :).



What kind of exercise refreshes and centers you?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

SFL Finding #2: Follow the four-by-four rule



It's been a while, but it's time for another Slim for Life Finding :).  In Chapter 1 (Eating) Jillian Michaels talks about managing your meals.  One of her tips (besides the obvious "don't skip any meals, especially breakfast" (24), is to follow the "four-by-four" rule:

"I also don't want you 'grazing' throughout the day.  I don't want you 'eating small meals' - you know, the six-small-meals-to-boost-metabolism theory.  I think that's utter crap.  When you snack throughout the day or eat many small meals, you release insulin.  This insulin release promotes fat storage, because your body is trying to burn off and utilize a constant flow of sugar to the bloodstream from nonstop eating" (25).

So what's the solution?
"I want you to eat every four hours.  There's only one time of day when I want you to snack, and that's between lunch and dinner" (25-26). 

I particularly liked this concept because I have never been someone who has enjoyed eating (small meals) throughout the day.  I feel weird, sluggish, always full, and never am able to lose or maintain my weight.  I have always done much better eating 3 meals a day and being intentional about what I'm putting into my body.  I like feeling (reasonably) hungry and enjoying my meals instead of force feeding myself - it's more satisfying.  I suppose that I will need to give 4 a try!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Health Challenge: What I'm learning


Things have continued to go well for me with my health goals.  I've been fortunate to have several "aha" moments along the way - most of which I already knew but have been great as a refresher.

1. I'm thriving off of inspiration around me.
I'm someone who loves moments when I'm inspired by someone else - usually people I don't even know, such as a stranger running down my street or a trainer at the gym.  Today I was at the gym and was watching the Swimming World Championships.  As I watched these amazing, healthy athletes sprint through the water, knowing how hard they've worked to be at the event, I thought "If they can do that, then I can give the stair climber at least 20 more minutes!"

2. There's nothing wrong with a little celebrity inspiration.
The other day I was reading a book and it said that for some people, having visual reminders of in shape celebrities is proven to motivate you to meet your fitness goals.  While it may sound bogus to some people, I find that it actually works for me.  Today I was watching In Her Shoes (one of my long time favorites) and was "wow-ing" over Cameron Diaz's arms and legs.  It reminded me that sticking to my push ups and lunges is totally worth it! (Photo Source)

3. Watch the salt!
I've always been someone who retains water fairly easy.  The past few days I've had really salty dinners and it's definitely shown.  Although it's temporary, being bloated isn't fun, especially during swimsuit season :).  I've learned I'd like to be more conscientious about this part of my diet.

4.  Starting my day with a workout is really powerful.
This week my biggest celebration was that I worked out every morning - 7 days in a row.  I was proud of myself for getting out of bed to start my day with a workout, and making it a priority.  The greatest benefit from my morning workouts is that it sets the tone for my day.  I always leave my workouts feeling so happy, calm, and accomplished, and that positive energy runs through my work day, helping me better combat stress.  I also love the feeling of leaving work knowing that the evening is wide open for me to fill with any activities I'd like, without feeling the guilt or burden of getting to the gym.  It's so liberating to feel that confidence and freedom.

5.  Small routines are awesome!
This month I've stuck to what I call "small routines" - routines in small doses that are realistic, achievable, and have a nice ROI in the end.  Two examples of this have been my Monday night outdoor yoga class, and my Saturday morning run.  Saying that I want to run and do yoga 4 days per week has never worked for me and I feel disappointed in the end.  I've felt proud of myself that I've been able to stick to my routines - collectively, these healthy habits add up!

6.  Getting rid of stuff really can quiet the mind.
On my plane ride home from Minnesota last week, I read a book called The Power of Less in one sitting.  It was SO great - I'll definitely be sharing more about it later.  One of my main take-a-ways was the idea of limiting your possessions in your work and home space, and getting rid of things that don't have a strong purpose or value in your life.  I have been spending the last few days going through drawers, recycling piles of mail and magazines, and more.  The author claims that having a cleaner and less cluttered space can bring you peace and thus keep you focused on your health and other priorities.  I believe it!

What are lessons you've learned through achieving your health goals?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Health Challenge Updates: Progress made!

As promised, I am sharing updates on the Summer Health Challenge!  It's been a few weeks and some great progress has been made:

1. My fabulous friends Sarah and Anna both decided to join the challenge with me.  They are awesome and I can't wait to hear about their updates along their way.  Anna has already emailed me to see how I'm doing, share her personal goals, and ask how she can keep me accountable - awesome!

2. I've already lost 4 lbs!  It feels great to know I'm already half way to my goal. 

3.  I've made a point of being more conscious about my eating habits.  I love thinking more critically about my eating decisions and putting my health and my cleanse-focused foods first!

4.  I'm loving running and yoga.  Tonight I did outdoor yoga (pictured above) and it was fabulous.  Yoga has become my weekly Monday routine.  Mondays can often be a bit stressful and overwhelming, and I've found that by doing yoga on Monday night I am able to re-center myself and set the tone for my week.  I feel empowered!

5.  Today I decided to splurge on a pick me up (so to speak) of a new, fun gym bag.  I'd been looking for a larger, casual bag that I could just throw my gym stuff into when working out.  My old gym bag was okay, but too small when it came to fitting work clothes, workout clothes, a towel, and accessories into one space!  Of course, I picked pink as my color :)  I figure that I will be even more motivated to go to the gym!


Stay tuned for more updates!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Health Challenge 2013!


Last Summer, I announced my Summer Health Challenge - an opportunity to use the Summer months as a season to capitalize on my health.  Summer is a beautiful time in Seattle and I (naturally) spend a lot more time outside moving around.  My friends and I make nearly all our play dates outside, and I'm always craving walks, checking out new parks, and reading on lawn chairs.  I'm also less likely to make excuses, such as "it's pouring rain and now I can't go on my run." :)

I am very excited to start my Challenge this month.  In June I was pretty inconsistent with my health - I felt like I was constantly treading water without any time to stop and recharge.  I had business travels, work events, and weddings nearly every weekend since April.  I also saw a slight creeping of the scale (which is not a crisis but a mood killer for me). 

Looking ahead, I know there are so many opportunities for me in the next few months.  I don't want to take beautiful days for granted or live with any regrets.  I want to use my time more intentionally, and learn how to make myself and my overall health a much larger priority.  In short, now is the time to capitalize!

So what does my 2010 Challenge look like?  

This year's plan will use a holistic approach to my wellness by taking a critical look at specific areas of my health that I'd like to improve.  I'll also be integrating elements that are proven, instant mood boosters for me.  The goal is to not do everything perfectly, but use a well-rounded approach to my health and not neglect any key elements.  If you'd like to join me this Summer (I really hope you do!) your Challenge can be the same (or completely different) as mine, depending on what your goals are.   Here is what I have in store...



MEASUREMENTS

I am going to use two measurements as a way to assess my progress with my body:

1) The scale - I am going to weigh myself on a regular basis, and record my weight once a week (probably on Mondays).  I find that I am most successful with weight loss when I weigh myself frequently (honestly every day) because I am more likely to notice and correct for small changes right away and it keeps me super motivated.  As far as a goal goes, I am hoping to lose 8 pounds this Summer, or however long it takes me to do so in a healthy way (ex: one pound a week).  My goal weight is based off what I call my "healthy, confident weight."  This is a size I've been before, where I feel truly confident and content.

2) Body measurements - Today I am going to take my measurements (I do this for my mid and upper thighs, arms, stomach, butt, and chest).  I will probably re-take my measurements once every 3 weeks or so.  Measurements are a fantastic way to track true progress.  While the scale is important, I find that my measurements are more valuable for me, as when I'm doing regular, muscle-building exercise, I tend to lose inches faster than pounds. 


NUTRITION

To jump start my weight loss success (nutrition wise), I am going to do a 21 day cleanse.  Do not worry - my version of a cleanse is not some insane juice diet, it's just a way of ridding my system of things that make me feel crappy for an extended period of time.  My personal cleanse was inspired years ago after reading Kathy Freston's 21 day cleanse in Quantum Wellness, where she recommends eliminating 5 things:
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten
  • Animal Products

You are probably thinking (like me, when I read the book), "Yeah right! Those are my favorite 5 food groups!"  My cleanse is a modified version of the above, where I try to scale back as much as possible within those 5 areas, without eliminating anything completely:

I try to cut caffeine from my diet (almost entirely) because I sleep better and feel less anxious when it's out of my system.  I try to give up all sweets minus quality, dark chocolate (when I'm needing a little treat).  As far as alcohol goes, I try to cut back in general and drink beer on occasion (beer usually makes me feel really bloated and hinders my weight loss).  For gluten, I try to focus on healthy, whole grain carbs only and ditch junk food and crappy, starchy carbs that have no nutritional value.  Lastly, for animal products, I try to eliminate most animal products minus eggs, fish, and cheese (in moderation, on salads).   

The results?  In the past I have always lost at least 5 lbs during a cleanse and been able to keep the weight off for a long time.  It feels so good to "re-train" your body to know what it feels like to put good, healthy things into it, and conversely know how you feel when you re-introduce the old crappy stuff.  Moving forward, I'm a lot more careful and aware of what I consume.  In addition, I sleep better, have a steadier mood, and my skin looks great!

The other nutritional effort I'm going to make is going grocery shopping regularly so I can stock my fridge and pantry with lots of healthy options, and cook healthy meals and bring my lunch to work more often.  A win win for my wallet and waistline!


EXERCISE

My general plan with exercise is to simply keep my body moving whenever I can, whether that's going for a run, taking the stairs, or doing abs during commercial breaks.  I am a firm believer that the little things DO add up!  However, in particular, I hope to prioritize the following:

1. Yoga, Yoga, Yoga!
I've always said that when I look back at the my life and the times when I was the happiest and healthiest, I was doing yoga regularly.  Yoga is immensely helpful for my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being.  Since yoga helps me maintain my calm during the week, I am also more likely to make healthy decisions.  In addition to going to class, I also have gotten into a habit of stretching at home.  Having a yoga mat in the middle of my living room is a great visual reminder!

2. Running
Running is something I have a (sort of) love hate relationship with.  I can't think of one time I've ever regretted going for a run.  Like yoga, when I'm running regularly, I am always the happiest and in the best shape ever.  Yet, I somehow manage to convince myself out of running fairly often.  I think it's because it takes a lot of energy and if you get out of the habit of running, it's a pretty big struggle when you start back up again.  Lately I've been running on the weekends at Discovery Park, which is my favorite place in the city.  My hope with running this Summer is that I can keep it simple but consistent, such as going for one run a week.  Here are 6 reasons to start running that I found pretty convincing!

3. Strength and Interval Training
I don't plan on doing a rigorous weight training program this Summer, but I certainly hope to add strength training to my weekly routine whenever I can, since it's so important for our health.  I plan to try a few of my gym classes that integrate strength training and/or interval training.  I've also been enjoying running stairs lately, as an added cardio and toning bonus.

SLEEP

I simply need to make sleep a priority.  I've been doing a much better job of getting to bed earlier in recent weeks, and can already tell the difference.  When I don't get enough sleep, I am more likely to feel fatigued and make poor eating and exercise choices - there's really a ripple effect.  Hopefully I can stick to it!

OTHER HEALTHY EFFORTS!
  • Journaling and Blogging - these practices make me happy, so I hope to keep up with them regularly!
  • Reading - Like last Summer, I'm hoping to read a few great health and wellness books this Summer as a way to keep myself centered on my goals.  I'm currently reading The Places that Scare You, which was recommended to me by my friend Shawna.  I'll still be blogging about Slim for Life and using Jillian's book as a guiding post for my health this Summer.
  • Spend time with happy friends!  When things get busy, we sometimes forget how helpful it is to spend time with our friends that make us happy.  We also have friends that can be energy zappers that don't always make us feel good inside.  My plan is to schedule time with friends of mine who I have positive energy around - who understand me, make me laugh, and support me with my goals. 

HOLDING MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE

I am going to blog about my progress with the Summer Health Challenge here, and report my results at the end of the Summer.  I will also identify an accountability buddy who I can reach out to and who can encourage me.

I hope you will consider joining me in committing to your health this Summer, whatever that might look like for you.  It could be as simple as spending time outside, getting more sleep, or trying a new and healthy recipe once a week.  Please keep in touch!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slim for Life (SFL) Finding #1: Land, Sea or Tree


[Disclaimer: I loved Slim for Life from start to finish, and I found almost all of Jillian's advice helpful.  However, for purposes of this "blog book club" and the findings I share from her book, I'm only sharing insights that I found the most practical and helpful to me personally.  I definitely recommend reading the whole book to learn about all the great tips on bettering your health to use the most holistic approach!]

The first great finding I discovered from Jillian Michael's Slim for Life book was her rule "Land, Sea, or Tree."  She explains "If it didn't come from the ground or the ocean or have a mother - don't eat it.  Think about it.  Twinkies and Cheetos - what the hell are these?" (p 18).   Oh Jillian, you make me laugh (per usual).

I like this rule because it gives you a very practical guide post (that you can easily remember) when you're making food decisions, whether you're at the grocery store, cooking dinner, or at a party.  I know that when I've maintained a very "all natural" diet in the past, I feel so much better all around.  Foods like Cheetos or Twizzlers might taste good initially, but I always feel really icky inside after I've eaten them (my stomach definitely says "what the hell?").  I've found that by maintaining a Land, Sea, or Tree type diet, that my skin is better, I have more energy, my blood sugar is consistent, and I am almost always able to maintain (or lose) my weight. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Knowing (and sticking to) your awesome zone!


This morning I sat down at my dining room table to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, check email, upload some wedding photos, and read a favorite blog.  I listened to the morning neighborhood noise and felt the cool breeze blowing through my home.  As I began to write, I thought "I just love my mornings.  I am so happy to have this time."

The above (simple but authentic) scenario is what I describe as my awesome zone - where I am most likely to feel happy, at peace, productive, and like myself.  A large part of this is that I am 120% a morning person.  I have the greatest energy, motivation, and zest for life in the morning, period.  I can think of few things that would make me happier than starting my day with a walk at a beautiful park, writing to-do lists for the day, reading a book, listening to music, or stretching on my yoga mat.  I love the mornings because they are usually the most quiet time of day when you don't have as many interruptions, such as phone calls, people yelling, or cars driving by.  I usually have my greatest "aha" moments about myself and life in general in the morning - I feel inspired to learn and take action.  I also feel the most in tune with my faith when I start the day and take a moment to say a prayer in thanksgiving for another beautiful day and all the opportunities ahead of me. 

In the evening I tend to (mentally, physically, and emotionally) shut down and lose my enthusiasm for activities that I typically find motivating in the morning, whether it's working out, cleaning, writing, or talking to friends.  In the morning I feel like I can take on the world!  In the evenings, if I am tired or not wanting to be around others, I don't like the energy I put out into the world.  When I hit my mid 20s, I could not wrap my head around how IN THE WORLD I managed to survive the post-college early 20s weekend bar and events scene with my friends until 2:00 AM.  I certainly had a blast and am grateful for the memories, laughter, and life-long friendships developed during those years, but I know it wasn't representative of "me" - it's just what I was magically able to pull off at the time :).

I am realizing more and more how important it is for me to be intentional about creating time for myself in the morning.  Starting my day right is something I value.  This also means going to bed early enough so that I can wake up and enjoy that morning zone! 

When is your awesome zone during the day?  How does it make you feel?  How can you make more time for these moments?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SLIM FOR LIFE (WellnessGal 'Book Club'!)


During my recent vacation in AZ, I read Slim for Life by Jillian Michaels.  My friends and I became fans of Jillian years ago after watching The Biggest Loser together every week.  We just love her sass, honesty, and no BS, no excuses (not to mention hilarious) approach to training and coaching.  So naturally, when I was browsing the book aisle at the grocery store the other month and saw the hot pink cover with Jillian and her fabulous physique, I snatched it in a second (for those of you who know me personally, you know this provides a great visual).

In all seriousness, Slim for Life is a fabulous book.  It is fun, entertaining, helpful, and informative.  My favorite part of the book is that Jillian puts to rest countless health "myths" that we hear all the time and often wrestle with by providing very balanced answers.  It's tough navigating through the health world with so many opinionated "health experts" all saying different things.

I love reading health books, because it's such a beneficial use of my time.  Even if I don't agree with everything I read, I always discover something that inspires me and am able to apply it to my life - something always resonates and betters my wellness at the end of the day.  

After reading Slim for Life, I decided that I want to start making a more disciplined effort to report about my books on this blog through starting a "Book Club" of some sorts.  When I read a book, I will start sharing my key findings during and/or after the reading process.  Hopefully you'll consider reading a book with me now and then, or if you're liking what you hear, you might be inclined to read the book later or apply a finding to your life right away! (Note: I'll be tracking these posts by using the label "Books," and so if you ever want to search a past book I've posted about, you can find the posts by clicking on the Books label on the list on the right side of my homepage.  Also, I will only share about books that I think a majority of readers will find truly worthwhile :).

So, stay tuned for my first post about my favorite findings from Slim for Life sometime soon!  In the meantime, happy reading!  Please be sure to share any book recommendations you have.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Welcome back, outdoor yoga!


Tonight I headed to yoga class at my gym.  I was excited for yoga but felt a bit bad going to the studio when it was such gorgeous day in Seattle (think: 78, clear blue skies, mid June!).  When I ran into my wonderful instructor, Michelle, she told me she decided to move our class outdoors!  I couldn't be happier to hear the news.

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that outdoor yoga is one of my most favorite things in the world.  It really is one of the most incredible mind/body experiences I have encountered in my life.  I haven't done outdoor yoga since last Summer, so it was particularly exciting to "start the season" of outdoor yoga.  I felt so lucky that I got to spend my evening doing something that was so great for my wellness.  My most favorite thing about yoga is that it forces me to stop, take a deep breath, and spend totally interrupted time focusing on myself, my body, and the positive parts of my life - this is a rare occasion for me.  Adding the outdoor element is just the icing on the cake!

I am very thankful for such a happy Monday, and people like Michelle who are so kind and committed to teaching such an amazing practice that creates peace in an often frenzied world.  Tonight I went straight home to add yoga to my calendar every Monday this Summer.  I hope this "place holder" will remind me to prioritize the special opportunity whenever possible.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Banana Chia Seed Pudding!


This year I learned about the benefits of chia seeds after reading an article on MindBodyGreen about 5 foods to "eat yourself slim."  Supposedly, chia seeds are one of the most nutritional foods you can eat.  They are super nutrient dense with a great balance of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats, in addition to iron:

"Chia seeds are a powerhouse food that will change your life. When mixed with liquid, chia seeds gel up into a pudding-like texture, which is perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert. Mix up some chia seeds with almond milk, dates/maple syrup, and some cacao nibs, and you won't believe that you're making yourself slimmer" (Source).

On my recent vacation to Arizona, I tried out a Banana Chia Seed dessert at an amazing healthy restaurant called True Food Kitchen in Scottsdale.   It was incredible - the most tasty (seriously) healthy dessert I've ever had.  Of course, I was determined to search for chia seeds at the grocery store when I returned to Seattle AND re-create the dessert at home.  To my surprise, it turned out awesome!  The recipe at TFK included both banana and coconut, but I just found one with banana.  I used agave for the sweetener, soy milk instead of water, and a little bit of nutmeg (in addition to cinnamon) for fun.  Note - my friend Jessica and I found that using soy or almond milk does not work that well - the chia seeds do not expand the same as they do with water, and doesn't create the best pudding like texture.  Thus, we'd recommend using water (as the recipe states - duh :).

I love discovering desserts that are legitimately healthy for you and taste great.  The recipe is also versatile - it can also serve as a breakfast or snack option.  Tonight I made a double batch so that I could have it on hand whenever I'm in the mood.  Enjoy!

Banana Chia Seed Pudding

makes 1 serving


1 banana
1 1/2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup water
1/2 Tablespoon natural sweetener such as honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon


Combine half of the banana, chia seeds, water, sweetener, vanilla, and cinnamon in your blender or food processor. Process until mixed. Pour the pudding into a bowl and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. The chia seeds will absorb the water and thicken the pudding. When ready, slice remaining bananas on top of pudding and serve. (Source)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The awesomeness of morning workouts


The above photo was taken this morning at Golden Gardens (a park in Seattle).  I went to run stairs and afterward sat down to soak in the beautiful scenery with Lucy.  It was a true cherry blossom moment where I stopped and thought "THIS is why I need to make time for my health in the morning.  I feel so lucky to be here."

For the past couple of weeks, I've gotten back into my morning workout routine. I feel so proud that I've made this change in my life.  I have felt (to no surprise) so much happier in the past few weeks, due to my recent Arizona vacation followed by a sincere commitment to my health.

I first learned about the benefits of morning workouts when I started doing outdoor boot camps about 4 years ago.  I would get up at 5:00 AM, 3-5 days a week to arrive at a park at 5:30 and do a killer hour-long workout before starting the rest of my day.  Insane? Yes. Worth it? Totally.  I have never been in better shape than when I was doing morning boot camps. During one month-long session I lost 4% body fat in one month, ran a mile in under 7 minutes (which is good for me as a "non-runner"), and was able to do 40 real push-ups in one minute and hold the plank for 2:30.  Just sayin'...

Here are my personal top three reasons why I love morning workouts:

1.  When I do a morning workout, I start my day by doing something healthy and happy for MYSELF.  I make myself a priority right after waking up and feel proud that I'm taking care of myself.

2.  I love the ripple effect of my morning workout.  I am instantly energized, my metabolism gets going, I have time for a healthy sit down breakfast, I come to work in a good mood (feeling more confident), and I make healthy eating decisions for the rest of the day.  Since I pushed myself physically in the morning, I am more tired later on in the evening, and am much better about going to bed on time.  I then able able to wake up (easily) the next day for my morning workout and repeat the process again and again.

3.  I get rid of the debate (and perpetual guilty state) about whether or not to exercise after work .  It is such an AWESOME feeling getting home from work and realizing that I DON'T have to workout if I don't want to because it's already checked off my list!  My evening is up to my disposal, whether it be happy hour with a friend, going on a walk with my dog, cleaning my house, grocery shopping, or working late (if need be). 

These are just three of my reasons, but there are countless other benefits to working out in the morning.  The other day I read a great article with lots of interesting insights. Even if you're not a morning person, I believe we all have the ability to give something toward our health in the morning, even if it's just a 20 min walk or 10 minutes of yoga and meditation.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scottsdale bliss


Today I got back from what I've realized was the most needed vacation I've taken in a LONG time.  I spent the last 5 days relaxing in Scottsdale with a few of my girlfriends, and it was exactly what I needed.  It was honestly a big wake up call for me.  I thought, why did I wait 9 months to take a real vacation

By the end of my trip, I learned that you really can't put a price on the feeling of absolute tranquility on a vacation - when you just stop what you're doing to take a deep breath and say "I am so happy and lucky to be here, in this moment."  I experienced this feeling mostly when I was sitting in the sun, on a lawn chair, quietly, with a great book :).  The house we stayed at looked onto a golf course.  Whenever we were outside, you could only hear the buzzing sounds of adorable wildlife (seriously, we're talking bunnies, quails, and geckos) and the laughter of my friends. I slept 8 hours every night, started my mornings with exercise, and ate healthy food (with perhaps a bit too much wine). 


One of the best parts about my trip was that I completely let go of work and my life back at home.  I love my job and am thankful for my blessings, but things got to be just way too much prior to my trip.  I was not in a healthy or happy place.  I promised myself that when I arrived in AZ, I would live in the present for the rest of the trip.  I am so glad I did - otherwise I would have had regrets. 


 

When is the last time you took a REAL vacation for you?             

Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's all about the cherry blossoms...


The other day I woke up earlier than expected, and decided to go for a walk.  It proved to be the most beautiful morning.  It was like a scene out of a cheesy movie - the sun was shining, birds were chirping, kids were getting ready for school, and there was a calm, constant breeze.

About half way through my walk, I came across a house on the corner that was enveloped by cherry blossoms.  There were eight trees surrounding the home, four on each side.  It was such a gorgeous scene that I felt compelled to stop and soak in what I was seeing.  At that moment I realized how much happier I was than when I woke up.  I felt energized, relaxed, and at peace.  I felt ready to take on the day, and confident that it would be a great one.

This, my friends, is what I call a cherry blossom moment (a newly invented nerdy term).  Cherry blossom moments are those times in which you decide to do something positive for yourself and your health, and all of a sudden you have that "I'm so glad I did this!" happy feeling (large or small) when you see the fruits of your labor.

When I'm debating whether or not to put an effort into something, I've learned that it's really helpful to remind myself about how I'll feel once I've accomplished that task.  Sometimes going on a run feels so daunting and 90% of me wants to just avoid it and sit on the couch, but when I think about that crazy high I feel at the end of my runs, that 10% is often all I need to move my rear. 

At the end of the day, it's all about the cherry blossoms...those moments that make us come alive.  The moments where we feel happier, healthier, more at peace, and one step closer to living the life we've envisioned for ourselves.

Bye bye, Facebook!


This morning I was chatting with my friend Greg.  He told me he had recently deactivated his Facebook account because he wanted to spend more time with his son.  I headed out the door for my morning walk and spent time thinking about what Greg said (frankly, it was the most compelling reason I've ever heard for giving up Facebook).  During the walk, I got a call from my darling 7-year-old cousin, Jillian, who wanted to say hi and tell me all about her day.  It was a great mood booster, not to mention a tangible (and instant) example of filling my time with activities (and relationships) that matter the most to me, instead of Facebook.  By the end of my walk, it hit me loud and clear that it was finally time for ME to deactivate my Facebook.  I got home, went straight to my computer, and sealed the deal! 

Those of you who have read my Blog for a while know that I have written about this topic in the past.  In fact, I did a Facebook detox with my friend Anna in January 2012 to just test out "Facebook free living."  This year, I have been thinking more and more about Facebook and the role it has in my life.  Primarily - how it ultimately makes me feel, and whether or not it's a good use of my time.  When I did my month long FB detox, I concluded that my two reasons to keep FB were:

1) Being able to "keep in touch" with friends and relatives who I don't get to see often (especially since I went to college out of state and 100% of my relatives are also out of state)
2) Knowing about events going on within my network (friends, charities, etc) because the reality is, Facebook IS the way that a majority of events are organized these days!

This morning, I concluded that those two things are no longer a good enough excuse for me to continue using Facebook, when the cons far outweigh the pros.

To be honest, I have no idea how long I'm going to live my life "Facebook free," or what my experience will be like. To a certain extent, it will be a lifestyle change.  That may sound ridiculous at first, but if you use Facebook daily, you know that is absolutely true!

What I do know is, I'm really looking forward to the next months ahead.  Here is what I'm excited about - and I'll be really transparent here...


I'M EXCITED TO:

1) Fill my "new found" free time with meaningful, fun, confidence boosting and healthy activities, including: exercise, time with friends/family, yoga class, blogging, volunteering, praying, sleeping, cleaning my home, artwork, managing my finances, grocery shopping, and more.

2) Date Facebook free!  I want people to get to know me without looking at Facebook, and I want to get to know people without judging them by what I see on Facebook (what some people lovingly refer to as "Facebook stalking").  Call me crazy, but I deserve the right to privacy in my dating life.

3) Quit comparing myself to other people and their lives.

4) Develop new friendships without a computer screen!

5) Have a greater sense of privacy with how I spend my time.  This is a big one for me.  I've dealt with too many scenarios where I don't feel enough freedom and space to spend time with who I want to, when I want to, without everyone knowing about it.  Our culture has seemed to develop an attitude that your personal life is THEIR business because they can "see" it on Facebook.  Isn't it strange that we occupy our time using something that limits our privacy and space in life?!  As far as I see it, the way I spend my free time is only of my concern, and is no one else's business. 

6) Say goodbye to narcissists flooding my computer screen (we all can think of at least 5 of our "friends" who fit this FB personality type).  Don't worry people, I'll never forget that you have the best clothes/boyfriend/dog/friends/body/grades/home/food/degree/etc).

7) Discover the friendships that are the most important in my life right now - the people who (still or moving forward) take the time to reach out to me outside of Facebook to ask me how I'm doing, sit down with me, and spend time with me - the people who I have the most positive energy around.  I have a feeling this is actually going to be a pretty small number (just due to the reality of how people communicate these days), but it will really validate great friendships.  I too want to hold myself accountable to the same.  Liking someone's status on Facebook or saying "happy birthday" on their wall does not count as an authentic friendship gesture.

8) Eliminate FB time from my work day and (in essence) from my employer's funds - set a better example as a leader.

9)  Soak in the special moments without feeling a need to share with 1,000 "friends." 

10) Push myself out of my comfort zone - learn how to channel nervous energy and/or boredom in healthier and more productive ways.

11) No more hate speech - I can't tell you how sick I am of sensational comments, polarized political rants, and unkind words on FB.  Political rants got out of hand during the last election (more than I've ever seen before) and it's simply a behavior I can no longer deal with.

12)  No more drama - SERIOUSLY.  I can't tell you how much drama is a result of Facebook mishaps and misunderstandings. SO over it.

I could continue this list for quite some time, but I will end here.  You get my point (I hope).  Again, who knows how long this will last.  I know it will be difficult at first, but I also hope that there are huge rewards I uncover with time.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hitting a plateau - what to do?


Have you ever hit a plateau with your overall health and not known what to do?  This has happened to me more than once in my lifetime, especially when it comes to my muscle mass and fitness routine.

Today I came across another fabulous article by Seattle trainer John Verd about this exact topic.  As I read through the article, I couldn't believe how relevant his ideas were to my lifestyle and habits in recent months.  Just yesterday I was thinking about cutting back on wine, drinking more water, and getting more sleep.  I also thought about how I've been inconsistent with breakfast on week days (which is very unlike me), and wondered how much it might be affecting me.  Well, what do you know...

"Beat Your Plateau in 5 Steps"

It happens to all of us at some point.

Your workouts are dialed in, and your body is rapidly becoming leaner and more attractive. Friends and family notice and you feel fantastic.

And then it stops.

You are doing everything exactly the same as before except your body no longer responds.

You, my friend, have hit a plateau. It's a frustrating place to be parked, so read the following 5 steps to get your body back into results mode.

Step #1: Reduce Sugar. A very effective way to restart your results is to reel in your sugar intake. Inspect all of your food for added sugars and eliminate items that contain high calorie sweeteners. This means no sugar, corn syrup, honey or maple syrup.

If you've already eliminated processed sugars from your diet, and have still hit a plateau, then it's time to dig a little deeper by eliminating some of the natural sugars from your diet. Limit your intake of sweet fruits and eliminate dried fruits.

Step #2: Get More Sleep. We are supposed to get an average of eight hours of sleep each night. If you're not getting adequate amounts of rest, you're more likely to be hungry, overeat, and gain weight.

When you're tired, you don't feel like cooking a healthy meal, and you're more likely to opt for fast (fattening) food. Then your lack of energy causes you to skip your workouts. And to make matter worse, sleep deprivation causes your metabolism to slow down, slowing or reversing your results. To beat your plateau, make sleep a priority.

Step #3: Drink Only Water. To restart your results you'll need to make some changes. Sorry, but some of the changes aren't going to be fun. If you're one of the millions hooked on soda, alcohol, or other sweetened beverages, then your plateau will stay locked in place until you replace these drinks with water.

Keep in mind that your brain often confuses thirst with hunger. So at the first sign of hunger, don't grab a snack or calorie-filled drinks. Instead, grab a glass of water.

Step #4: Eat Healthy Breakfast. But not just any breakfast. Your plateau-breaking breakfast should be low in carbs and high in protein. Try eggs, lean breakfast meats, a protein shake, or a mini-muffin made with almond flour.

Fitting breakfast into your busy morning may take some work, but research shows that the habit of eating a healthy breakfast is key to losing weight and keeping pounds off. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier to give yourself time to eat breakfast

Step #5: Increase Exercise Intensity. It's time to start taking your workouts more seriously. No more going through the motions, it's all-out for you. If you want to get back on track with your body transformation, and to keep the fat melting away, then increase the amount and intensity of your exercise routine.

For most people, this is the most difficult lifestyle change of all, but the benefits are enormous. Try to get 30 to 60 minutes of intense exercise on most days of the week. When exercise is a normal part of your everyday routine, you're more likely to stick with it, and your body will become slimmer and more toned.

The quickest and most permanent way to beat that plateau is through a combination of healthy eating and consistent, challenging workouts.

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