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...


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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