Friday, December 26, 2014

2015: Finding my joy

Last week I had a first time wellness experience: energy work.  My dear friend and Aesthetician, Lauren Sterling, had told me about her energy work services and encouraged me to do a session with her.  When I started my appointment, I had a lot of mental chatter going on - mostly anxious, negative, fearful thoughts.  I asked Lauren what I should do to get rid of the chatter.  To my surprise, she said "nothing." She explained that the goal of her work is to just let things unfold naturally, as you make space for positive things in your body.

At first, I was skeptical about this theory.  On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a personality type that is completely wired for mental chatter) I'd say I'm a 12.  I find it close to impossible to just let things go and not let my mind wander when I'm stressed out, no matter how hard I try. 

Despite my doubts, I decided to just go with it.  I took a few deep breaths and told myself to stay in the present and just let go.  After a while, I suddenly experienced an unexpected shift.  My chatter didn't go away, but it transformed.  My mind started filling with positive thoughts and images - one after another, like dominoes.  It felt like an unveiling of answers - my body was telling me to pay attention! 

I first saw myself designing a meditation space in my home.  Then I had images of doing more yoga, journaling, blogging, and sleeping peacefully.  Then I thought about honoring my practice of running and spending more time outside with Lucy.  Then the faces of my loved ones started popping up, which made me smile.  All of these images sent me the message that I needed to start intentionally filling my time with activities and the people who lift me up and bring me peace.

After a while, it hit me that these things collectively were forming my vision for 2015.  The words "find your joy" came to me, and I discovered that a key outcome of my energy session was to discover my 2015 New Year's "mantra" (so to speak): Finding my joy.  My goal of 2015 is to fill my life with life giving things that bring me joy, even if the journey may me difficult and at times scary.  I am truly excited about the concept of living my life with greater intention and joy, and can't wait to see what unfolds - even if it is nerve wracking at times!

What could your 2015 mantra be?  What shift would you like to see in your life?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chasing after peace

One of my biggest areas of personal growth this year has been removing stressful things from my life, and filling my life with the things that make me happy.  This may sound like common sense, but I've learned that for a lot of people (myself included), it is not always easy.  Yesterday I received a daily advent post (above) that reminded me of this goal.  I love the idea of "going where peace is" - whether that's a physical place (like a park), being around a joyful friend, or sitting on your yoga mat. 

This morning I went to Golden Gardens, one of my favorite parks in Seattle.  It was a rainy, overcast day but the water was so beautiful.  The sound of the ocean waves was calming and I instantly felt filled with happiness.

Where do you find peace?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Owning MY winter wonderland

This weekend I went to Leavenworth, WA with my parents and friend Shawna.  It was a wonderful time - not just because of the great company (and wine), but because of the beauty outside and the peace and understanding it brought me while I was there.  It was so quiet, and the scenery was magnificent.

While I was in Leavenworth I was surrounded by the beauty of the winter.  When we woke up on Saturday it had snowed overnight - the view was breathtaking.  I instantly felt filled with joy and the holiday spirit, as if I was in my own "winter wonderland."  It made me think about winter as a time of renewal and peace, and an opportunity to change my life for the better.

In short, November was a rough month for me (both personally and professionally), due to a series of three very difficult and stressful events.  The stress is not over yet and I will still be troubleshooting a few issues for a while.  However, this weekend I thought about how I can empower myself to move forward with confidence as I live intentionally.  This means taking charge of my life and making decisions that will allow me to achieve the outcomes that I want, rather than focusing on the stress that surrounds me, and the things I can't control.   This weekend I came across a great quote that my friend posted on Facebook, which couldn't better sum up my sentiments:

There really is something to be said about taking ownership of your life and your decisions - sometimes this is not (in the moment) as intuitive to us, especially when we are in high stress situations.  We tend to go into panic mode and throw pity parties for ourselves (which is, for the record, totally okay to a certain extent).  However, imagine if we shift our mind frames and energy to focusing on the positive, while also making changes in our lives that bring us more happiness?

Yesterday I spent some time journaling and thinking about small steps I could take to cultivate more happiness in my life as I finish 2014.  If you're looking to make a few shifts in your life, I would encourage you to take 10 minutes to do the same!  Here were a few ideas that I came up with:

Happiness "Change Agents"
  • Devoting 5 minutes each day to meditate
  • Honoring my weekly practice of yoga and running
  • Cultivating a healthy bedtime routine (now that I have an awesome new mattress and bed!) and getting plenty of sleep 
  • Cleansing my home of clutter
  • Continue to go grocery shopping weekly - go organic whenever possible, and make a healthy breakfast and lunch!
  • Continue using for my monthly budgeting and financial clothes - remove financial clutter!
  • Surround myself with people who life me up - stop tolerating people who do otherwise
  • ENJOY the holiday season - decorate my home, listen to Christmas music, and make time for joyful and quiet moments

Now, here's the catch to all of this: discipline.  All of the things above are great ideas, but they won't happen unless I make them a priority.  In Jillian Michael's book, Slim for Life, she talks about coming up with a vision for your health and your life, and becoming attached to that vision - the key word being "attached."  I have to truly desire these changes and prioritize my time accordingly in order to see the results I want.  For a lot of us, this means doing the things that may not always be easy/comfortable/intuitive etc.   It's a lot easier to sit on the couch instead of work out, go out to eat instead of grocery shopping and cooking a healthy meal in, or to avoid a difficult conversation with a friend instead of having the conversation.  However, the truth is that the positive outcomes (long term) far outweigh the negative emotions and stress we endure when we are unsettled inside.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2014?  What are the shifts (large or small) that you are hoping to make in your life?  What do you want your winter wonderland to be?

Monday, November 3, 2014

30 day challenge recap

Tonight I came home with an urge to write (after some time of not feeling inspired to do so).  I am excited to start posting again and share a few updates on my life, the first being a recap of the 30 day challenge that I did with a few friends in September!

The 30 Day Challenge
In late August I shared about my plans to do a 30 day challenge with my cousin Robin (Colorado).  My friends Marianne (Seattle) and Sarah (NYC) decided to join in.  The goal was to try to get moving every day, for 30 days.  It was so much fun doing this challenge with my close girlfriends, and we all learned a lot.  I recorded all of my exercise on a laminated calendar on my fridge, which was super rewarding and motivating each time I wrote something down!  Exercising every day also made me more conscious about my diet and drinking habits, and I saw improvements there as well.

I was successful overall with the challenge minus the very last week when I had my biggest work event of the year.  This involved working until 9:00 PM every night without any breaks, which kind of nixed my exercise routine.  I was a bit disappointed that I didn't do a better job anticipating this challenge and scheduling in smaller morning workouts ahead of time, but I was proud of all I accomplished in the end.  Here were a few of my key findings:

1.  I got my strength (and butt) back!
I decided to focus primarily on strength training during the challenge, because it's what (my mind, body and spirit) was missing the most this Summer.  In addition to trying out a couple classes at my gym, I decided to join The Bar Method by taking advantage of a great new (one month) membership deal.  The classes were a completely new type of exercise for me and truly kicked my butt.  Since the studio is just blocks from my office at work, I went to morning, lunch, and after work classes regularly and loved making it a part of my routine.  After three weeks I looked in the mirror and could definitely notice the difference.  My arms were toned, my core was less poofy, and my butt finally had it's curve back (photo below)!  Pretty gratifying, if you ask me. 

In addition to The Bar Method I got in a good amount of yoga, and also went on walks with friends (instead of the usual go-to happy hour).  It was great to integrate these three practices into my routine.

2.  It feels GREAT to make your health a regular priority
I felt empowered making exercise a daily priority in September.  It was something I scheduled and looked forward to every morning.  What motivated me the most was knowing I was taking care of myself and feeling healthier each day.  The more time I spent exercising, the less stressed I was.  Exercise was "me" time that I cherished.  It allowed me time to reflect and savor peaceful moments - even during the burn!

3.  Exercise every single day may not be a sustainable plan
My one "con" of the 30 day challenge was that after it was done, I went for nearly 2 weeks without consistent exercise.  This could be related to what was going on in my life after the challenge ended, but I have been known to have an "all or nothing" type of personality and I'd rather not make excuses.  While exercising every day was/is a fabulous thing to strive for, I learned that I would rather exercise 5 days a week every week than exercise 30 days straight then go for weeks without any exercise.  I think it's best to be proactive and intentional about exercise, and not get defeated or too off track after taking a break.

4. Cardio AND Strength are key
Before starting the exercise challenge, I did a lot of cardio but was doing virtually no strength training.  During the exercise challenge, I focused so much on strength training that my cardio routines disappeared.  I know that for me to feel truly healthy and get the body shape I desire, I really need both.  So moving forward, I'm trying to be intentional about both practices!

Would I do the 30 day challenge again?  Absolutely.  I got in great shape, learned a lot about myself, and had so much fun connecting with my girlfriends each week.  Do I think that exercising every single day is a realistic plan?  No - but it's something we can certainly strive for :). 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Walking in the rain

Today after work I met my friend Stephanie for a walk in her neighborhood (Queen Anne).  It was a quiet, overcast evening and about half way through our walk it started pouring down rain.  Rather rushing home, we just continued our walk!  It was such an amazing feeling enjoying the sound and feeling of the rain and embracing the moment.  It reminded me how therapeutic it is to go for a walk, rain or shine!

Feeling the GOOD burn again

This month I'm completing my 30 day exercise challenge with my cousin and a few girlfriends (see August 27th post for more details!).  To ensure that September 1st would not be (too) rude of an awakening, I gave myself an awesome jump start over the weekend when I visited my friend Danica in Tahoe City.  I particularly loved this vacation because it was so health conscious.  We were active every day from the moment we got up until we sat down for dinner.

On Sunday (my last full day there), we went on a big hike.  While distance wise it was not very long, it was a lot of vertical gain and really challenged my muscles.  We went to approximately 8,200 feet, which was not easy compared to my sea level routines at home.  When we were done with the hike I felt so accomplished and thankful that I spent the day the way we did.

Later that evening when we were lounging at the house, I had the best muscle recovery "burn" feeling for the first time in a while.  Not a "I can't walk and am in pain" feeling, but a "I worked so hard today and feel great!" feeling.  It reminded me what it feels like to be in shape and push your muscles to a point where they feel fatigued in an amazing way.

Tonight I did my first Bar Method class during my lunch break - excited (sort of :) to feel the burn tomorrow!

When was the last time you really pushed your muscles in a good way?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

30 days of exercise

If there's one thing I've observed about my body this year, it's that it's changed.  Maintaining my weight and muscle mass used to be relatively easy.  I knew exactly what I needed to do (at minimum) to maintain the shape I desired and feel confident with my body.  It was no big deal if I took a couple weeks off from my regular exercise routine or over indulged on a vacation.  Also, proper nutrition and portion control was 90% of what it took for me to feel great....

Well, not anymorePerhaps it's something about being in that "30 + box" :)...

The main change I've noticed about my body is a visible increase in body fat.  I don't mean this in a "bad" or self hating way but in an honest, tell it like it is way.  It has simply become more difficult for me to acquire and maintain muscle mass.  It's frustrating at times, but an important realization to have (as I know it won't get easier later in life!).  If I want to stay lean, strong, and feel confident and healthy, I need to make exercise a much bigger priority moving forward.

Yesterday I was talking with my cousin Robin and she told me about her plans to do a 30 day exercise challenge.  Her only goal for her health is to get moving every day.  That is it!  Whether it's a 20 minute power walk around her neighborhood, riding her stationery bike, going to Pilates class, or going for a run - she wants to just get moving, every day, for 30 days.

It was so serendipitous speaking to Robin when I did, because it was JUST the idea and inspiration that I needed.  I had been thinking so much lately about exercise and making that THE core of my health.  I want to focus on one thing that I can honor in order to bring me greater happiness and health on multiple levels.  I love that Robin and I will be doing this together too so I will have accountability and a fun partner in crime.

Robin and I are going to start our 30 days of exercise commitment on September 1st.  The timing is perfect as September is conveniently 30 days.  I would like to invite you to join us if it's something you're excited about.  Again, the goal is not perfection or some rigorous exercise calendar - it's just to GET MOVING (and get outside while it's still Summer!).  It's not a crisis if you miss a day either (although Robin and I really want to try to meet out goal of every day to develop the habit of consistent exercise). 

A few things I'm considering to support my effort:

*I am going to try out a class at The Bar Method, a local studio in Seattle.  They have a new member one month unlimited special that I may take advantage of.  I've done a lot of reading about these classes and really loved the history of the practice and the strength/toning and postural benefits the classes provide. 

*I signed up for a new gym last month, which will definitely provide me with a guaranteed, flexible exercise option with more hours (no excuses if it rains or if I have a busy week) along with a variety of fitness options.

*I want to try to go on more walks in the morning and evenings, and use them as a social opportunity with friends (aside from the bar).  It's so nice to get outside, breath the fresh air, and end your evening by moving instead of staring in front of a TV screen! 

Wish me luck!  If you're reading this article part way through the month, please still join!  Whether it's a 30, 20 or 10 day challenge, healthy habits have to start somewhere.  All efforts (large or small) can make a difference to your health and happiness!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer lessons - thus far...

This Summer has been an interesting one - beautiful, fun, busy, and exhausting.  I've learned that while it's gorgeous outside and there's a lot of fun stuff going on, that it goes by SO fast and it's not a time of recharge (for me).  Summer (at least in Seattle) is such a busy time.  People are constantly going on outdoor adventures, organizing events, and schedules fill up so fast.  While I am thankful for the weather, I yearn from the more peaceful, quiet, Fall days.

Until then, I wanted to reflect on some of the things I've learned during "the busy season."  Hopefully they can serve as positive reminders for the rest of the season and beyond...

1.  Take care of yourself - seriously!
When things get busy, I tend to stop taking care of myself in large and small ways - grocery shopping (and eating healthy), working out, putting myself together in the morning, getting sufficient sleep, budgeting time to myself, etc.  Whether this means scheduling 20 min power walks or treating yourself to a manicure now and then - it all adds up and influences your energy levels, happiness, and who you bring to the table when you are around others.

2. Go to the places OUTSIDE that bring you PEACE
This Summer I'm trying to be as intentional as possible about spending time outside.  Simply put, I am so much happier and at peace when I'm surrounded by natural beauty and fresh air.  Whether I'm sitting on a patio, going on a neighborhood walk, or doing a trail run at the park it all adds up.  Countless studies have shown that spending time outside contributes to energy levels, your mood, and overall happiness.   I also feel the most connected with my spirituality and faith when I'm outdoors.

3. Don't wait too long to recharge!
This year I waited until July to take an official vacation.  Prior to leaving town I was sick for THREE weeks.  It was bizarre, exhausting, and beyond frustrating.  I had nausea, bad headaches, and fatigue every single day.  It impacted my social life, work performance, and exercise routine.  When I got on the plane to Colorado I felt instantly better - it was as if my sickness disappeared along with the stress (no coincidence).  Needless to say I realized that I can't wait six months to take my next vacation - I need to be actively thinking ahead and budgeting time for recharge, because I deserve it and my health depends on it. 

4. Skip the makeup now and then!
This Summer I've gone (a little) out of my comfort zone by going sans makeup as much as I can.  Yes, even at work and when getting together with friends.  I realized that I need to accept myself for who I am without makeup, and save my time for more important things.  I now only wear makeup when I really want to, and feel more authentically myself.  I also have been focusing way more on taking care of my skin - using nice moisturizers, wearing my favorite new face oil, and applying SPF like no one's business!  My skin will thank me both short and long term.

5.  Remember to stop and look at the flowers
Seriously - they are so pretty! The Spring and Summer can go by so fast and there is so much beauty around us.  I have been obsessed with going on walks to capture the flowers around my neighborhood (nerdy? YES).  The photo above is of the prettiest pink flowers I've ever seen! (Yes, I am dying to get a matching pink dress :).

6.  Spend time with happy people who lift you UP!
This year I've experienced some transitions with friends.  It hasn't been easy, but it's been an invaluable learning experience that I know I will apply later in life, that will make me (and my friends) happier in the end.  There is no perfect friend (and I am far from one myself), but I do deserve to be around people who are happy and lift me up.  Our free time is limited and when we are around others it should be life giving. Period

I have learned that it's okay to be protective of my time and how I spend it.  Taking a break from a friend does not mean that it's permanent or that you don't care about that person - it just means that you need to take care of yourself, prioritize your needs, and let that friend grow on their own.  In the same vein, going through these experiences has made me learn to cultivate more self awareness and work on being a better friend and my own personal growth (it's a 2 way street after all) - a win win in the end.

My cousin Robin (pictured above) is the most wonderful friend I have - enough that I visit her and her family in Colorado 1-2 times a year.  The positive energy we have when we're around each other has such a special ripple effect that extends for months after I'm home, and the memories really last a lifetime!

What has been your greatest takeaway from this Summer?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Latest beauty product obsession: Bobby Brown Face Oil

This Summer I've heard a lot of buzz about face oil and how good it is for your face.  Some people assume that it makes your face break out everyone I've spoken with says that is not the case!  If you use the right kind, face oil is absolutely awesome for your skin and important for retaining moisture, especially during the drier months and when you travel. 

A couple weeks ago I went to Bobby Brown to look for a new foundation option, and the woman used their Skin Foundation Stick on me, which I loved (it's seriously the most practical and effective way to apply a foundation to your face).  The interesting part was she first put their Face Oil on my skin around the areas of my face that are are more dry, let it absorb for a few minutes, and then applied the foundation.  My face was glowing the whole day and my coloring was so even!  I really loved the look. 

So, I decided to splurge and am so glad I did.  I used the face oil while I was on my recent trip to Colorado and loved it.  The air is very dry there so I would use an evening nighttime moisturizer (loved the sample I tried: Philosophy miracle worker miraculous anti-aging moisturizer).  In the morning I'd start my day with the face oil, let it absorb, apply sunscreen, and then apply the face oil again later in the day after I was at home for the rest of the evening.   It really made a difference!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quit thinking, get on your walking clothes, and head out the door!


Last night I got home from work and was in a weird mood.  I felt tired, stressed, lonely, lazy, and in a funk.  It was my first day of work after a long vacation and I did not want to go to work that day.  I sat around moping and contemplating how I should spend my evening, and I concluded that 1) it was an outrageously beautiful summer day outside that I should not waste, and 2) that if I sat around on my couch watching TV I wouldn't feel much better in the end.

I decided that I needed to just quit thinking, get up, get on my walking clothes, and head out the door.  I had an urge to drive away from my house and go to the water, so to no surprise I headed to Discovery Park - my special haven in Seattle.  When I'm there I always feel so at peace because I am removed from noise, distractions and stress triggers at home and at work.  I get exercise, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on my face, and after I leave I feel 10x better than I did before.

My plan for last night definitely ended up being the right one.  When I got home I didn't feel nearly as stressed.   I felt proud of myself that I sucked it up and just headed out of the door so that I could manage my stress in a healthy and productive way.  Lucy was definitely happy with my decision as well :).  We found an abandoned, brand new tennis ball on the trail and since hardly anyone was there, I ended up playing catch with her along a stretch of the walk - it was too much fun. 

My evening concluded with candles, a really nice glass of red wine, and an episode of Mistresses (a horribly ridiculous yet wonderful show that's one of my guilty pleasures).  It was the perfect end to my day.  I felt very thankful to go to bed feeling happy and stress free.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The perfect and hopeful summer solstice evening

This month has been filled with work - and lots of it.  So much that I feel like I'm constantly treading water.  On Tuesday we had a major program event (which lasted until 9:00 PM and resulted in me getting sick Weds through Friday), and then today I hosted an all day regional meeting.  Needless to say, I've been needing a substantial break from the chaos and cannot be more excited for this Summer. 

When I got home tonight at 8:00, I was disappointed that I didn't get to enjoy the day the way I wanted to.  However, when I looked outside my window I was taken aback by the beauty and of the evening.  It was unusually quiet in my neighborhood for a Saturday, and there was such a happy energy.  I decided to end my day with a walk outside...

Brand new home with the most gorgeous, contemporary architecture 
Peace rose - my absolute favorite flower

A plant which I love but do not know the name of :) Any experts?

After my walk I sat down to watch the longest sunset.  It was so peaceful to spend a Saturday evening at home and just reflect.  I thought about how lucky I am to live where I do and felt thankful for that moment to myself (with Lucy, of course).  I thought about how excited I am for the Summer ahead and all of the amazing surprises in store.  My hope for this Summer is to live it intentionally by doing the little things that fulfill me:  to savor the sunsets and long days, read on my roof deck, go on more evening walks, drink more water, meditate, blog, run, sleep, pursue enriching friendships, and take care of myself.  I want to be more selfish (in a good way) and give to myself - just like I give to my family, friends, and work.   

What do you want to make out of this Summer?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

21 day reset starts today!

I've always been a fan of the words "cleanse," "reset," "health," and "focus" (note: not "diet").  I love having a concentrated period of time where I try to cultivate awareness for (and really focus on) my health choices: eating, drinking, sleeping, and exercise (to name a few).  I've found that I am more successful within a short period of time because it feels less daunting than having a super ambitious long term goal. 

There is also something so mentally and physically satisfying about taking better care of yourself and getting rid of the "stuff" that makes you feel icky or discontent.  After I do a cleanse I feel so much better overall and it radiates from the inside out - I feel more confident and at peace.  I also always lose a few pounds and build my endurance, which serves as a great stepping stone for future goals.

As mentioned earlier this month, I have been in need of a "Spring clean."  I've been trying to eat healthier, drink less, sleep more, and get back on track with my health, but things have moved a bit slow so far.  I've realized this week that if I really want to make healthy changes and achieve my goals, I will have to really want it and be displined about it.

As timing would have it, I have plans for my annual trip to Colorado on June 29th to spend time with my cousin and her family.  While I'm excited (beyond words) for the trip, I'm not thrilled about (the idea of) not feeling confident in a swimsuit, not being able to go on runs with ease, or not fitting into clothes right when we go shopping.  I do not want to have moments during my trip where I have regrets or am preoccupied with silly insecurities.  I want to live it up with great happiness and confidence - in Colorado, and all Summer long.

This morning I realized that I have 21 days in Seattle left until I leave for my trip. So, between now and through June 28th, I'll be doing my 21 Day ResetI'd love for you to join me, especially if you have fun 4th of July travel plans or are simply looking to focus more on your health.  I truly believe that actively focusing on your health for a focused period of time can work wonders with producing healthy changes.  Here are some of the things I'll be focusing on:

1. GET MOVING - strive to get exercise every day, whether it's a 20 minute power walk or a long run.  Only take breaks when my body truly needs it - not just because I'm feeling tired or lazy.  I also want to take up running more often.  This morning I really challenged myself by going to Discovery Park and adding on more distance all the way down to the beach - the results were amazing!  I felt so happy, at peace, and proud of myself.  The scenery (above) was beautiful, and reminded me how lucky I am to live in a gorgeous place and be able to run - period.

2. CUT BACK on the BOOZE - I am going to try to be as conscientious as possible with my drinking, and only have a drink if I am truly craving one.  Those calories really add up.  Last Fall I was able to lose 7 lbs in 24 days just from giving up booze alone!  I also need to hydrate as much as possible, especially in between drinks.

3.  HEALTHY EATING - When I do a cleanse, I always try to focus on cutting back (but not eliminating entirely) various areas: animal products, alcohol, sweets, gluten, and caffeine.  I plan to strive for a diet focused largely on whole grains, veges, and healthy fats, and nix sweets and junk food as much as I can (if not, entirely).  Part of this means keeping up with grocery shopping and being intentional about making breakfast and bringing my lunch to work.  This is not always my strong suit!

As far as measuring my progress goes, I would like to lose 5 lbs and a few inches overall.  More importantly,  my only real goal is to FEEL better and fit better into my close.  As long as I feel better and my pants fit right, I know I'll feel great!

Please consider joining me for the 21 day reset - starting today, or whatever day your heart desires!  I'd love to share my progress/results as well as yours.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Legit Lean finding #1: Oatmeal for breakfast

Last month I mentioned getting the book, The Lean.  It shares 30 simple steps you can take (one new method each day, which you integrate as you progress through the 30 days) to better your overall health.  I am currently reading the book and will be sharing some of the findings I found particularly valuable.

The first is Freston's advice (Day 2) to "have a hearty breakfast."  She shares: "When you eat a good breakfast of complex carbs, like those in steel-cut oats or brown rice or whole grain bread, you get a slow and steady release of glucose that powers your body for hours" (8).  Kathy explains that while eggs have good protein that from a weight loss and health perspective, they have absolutely no fiber, which is not good for your metabolism.  She also shares that "Eating just a cup of oatmeal a day appears to extend a woman's life span as much as if she jogged four hours a week!" (13).  Pretty compelling, if you ask me!

So, I decided to give the hearty breakfast recommendation a whirl by purchasing quality rolled oats, and preparing oatmeal for breakfast a few times this week.  It absolutely has made a difference for me!  For one, I feel satisfied after the meal.  For two, I feel full for a long time.  Third, and even better, I don't feel that icky feeling after eating the meal.  There isn't a big blood sugar rush, digestive issues, or that too heavy stomach feeling you have after a rich egg dish/breakfast. 

I will mention that adding a few items to the oatmeal makes a big difference (the idea of eating plain oatmeal with nothing on it is out of the question for me).  I've tried adding fresh, local strawberry slices, chopped walnuts, brown sugar, and almond milk.  It is SUPER good.  I also am loving adding sliced apples with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger.  Ironically, Day 3 of The Lean is to eat an apply daily - so it's a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone! 

In recent months I had gotten out of the routine of making time to sit down and eat a healthy breakfast, and I've had quite a few muffins and Starbucks breakfast sandwiches on the go.  This is not "bad," but these options ultimately don't make me feel great in the end, and they cost a lot of money!  I am excited to integrate this healthy, small change as much as I can moving forward. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Time for a Spring clean!

When you read the title of this post you probably thought: "Yes, I need to clean my home and take boxes of stuff to Goodwill too."  True story for me as well.  However the 'Spring clean' I'm referring to is the cleaning of my body.

I've had a lot of fun since Spring began, but I also have not taken the best care of my body.  Unfortunately, my gym closed down in March and that was a huge bummer for me.  I absolutely loved my gym and truly miss my routine of morning workouts and yoga classes on the weekends.  I also haven't been eating as healthy.  As the weather gets nicer in Seattle, that also means cold beers and white wine for me, which are delicious, but not a tummy tamer.

The other day I told my friend Lulu that for me, health is not about a number on a scale - it's about how I feel from the inside out.  Just like my blog, health is looking at things holistically.  When I am practicing a healthy lifestyle (note: this includes nutrition, exercise, the outdoors, quality time with friends, sleep, etc), I FEEL healthier.  I am more awake, happier, more confident, and more at peace. My skin even looks better!  I feel more inspired to continue being healthy and achieving my goals. 

I also have a strong desire to enjoy this Summer feeling truly confident about my body and being as active as possible.  For my non-Seattle native readers, Seattle is the most beautiful place to live in the Summer.  It is 80 degrees, sunny, with no humidity almost daily.  The days are long and the evenings are beautiful.  You are outside all the time and are always moving, so therefore tend to be at your best, fitness wise.  In short - the Summer months are incredible and a precious time for me.  I don't want to look back after Summer is over and say "I sat around moping and feeling unsatisfied all Summer long instead of living it up and feeling awesome." I have several fun trips planned, including going to Leavenworth and my favorite annual trip to Colorado to visit my cousins.  These trips both involve lots of swimsuit time and being active - ie added motivation.

So, what does the cleaning of my body mean for me?

1.  Education
I always find it helpful to read books about healthy living while I'm focusing on meeting my goals.  You get new ideas, feel inspired, and am more motivated to be healthy.  Recently I started The Lean, which gives awesome, practical daily health strategies (ex: drinking 8 glasses of water each day, eating a heart-healthy breakfast, etc).  I am also going to read The Science of Skinny, which was recommended to me by a friend of mine.  It's all about understanding your body and practicing life-long healthy methods that are not about dieting, and is written by a very well respected author.

2.  Get moving!
As Michelle Obama says, if you want to be healthy you've gotta get moving!  This can be anything - from cleaning my house, going to the gym, going on a power walk, going for a hike, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing some abs on my exercise ball.  I've learned that all the little things DO add up.

3.  Eat like I want to be healthy!
While I am normally a pretty healthy eater, I have gotten a bit off track and haven't been as intentional as I should be about my choices.  I would like to strive for eating more produce, fish, and healthy fats and trying to scale back on some of my not as healthy habits - especially beer, candy, and any processed foods.

As always, sleep is so critical for your success.  I have gotten better about going to bed earlier but would like to continue focusing on this. I am someone who needs 8 hours of sleep - in fact, a vast majority of people do. 

What do you do to practice healthy living?  Is it time for a Spring clean?  If yes, please join me!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

New book: The Lean

One of my favorite health and wellness authors is Kathy Freston (who wrote one of my favorite books, Quantum Wellness).  While I don't follow all of Kathy's beliefs (ex: she is a strict vegan), I love her core belief of holistic wellness - taking care of your mind, body, and spirit as you strive for better health.

Yesterday I came across one of her books at Barnes & Noble on the bargain priced table (only $5.99 for a new hardcover book!).  The Lean is about taking 30 small steps in 30 days to lose weight.  I got the book because I am all about the concept of doing making small, realistic steps to better your overall health and happiness. Losing weight, of course (if needed) is just an added bonus!

Here is a sneak peek of the contents with some of the 30 day tips for health, to give you an idea.  I am not sure if I'll officially do the exact 30 day plan but I am looking forward to learning new things and applying some of the insights to my every day life!  Please feel free to join me for a book club of sorts, as I'll be reporting back with my findings. 

Here's to a healthy and happy weekend!