Happy Birthday to Me!

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IMG_2981Last week was my birthday. It was an awesome day that started off with a good 530A workout. I try to always exercise on the big day as a way to thank my body for hanging in there. Of course, I took a nap when I got home because waking up before 5a is just not OK. I woke up to a wonderful homemade breakfast. HB made me a feast fit for the health conscious queen that I am, including gluten free toast with an owl design made out of fruit. It was awesome and yummy.

In the evening, my friend Mandy invited me to go into DC and check out a panel discussing Behind the Scenes of the Walking Dead. And yes, Andrew Lincoln - The Walking DeadAndrew Lincoln was there!  It was really awesome to hear more about how the show is made —Greg Nicotero, executive producer, director, and special effects makeup supervisor talked about the process to create the zombies. It was clear listening to him how much he was born to do what he does. It fascinates me to listen to people who from an early age found something they are passionate about and get to do that thing every day as a career.

The next evening, Scotty and I enjoyed a steak dinner at DC Prime. It was so amazingly delicious and we came home to cut into my yearly Carvel Birthday cake with the kiddos.

 

Happy Birthday

It was a lovely weekend that ended with a super bowl party over at a friends house with friends that have been in my life for over 20 years.  Coincidentally, this past weekend I came across this article: ‘I have lived over half of my life’ : Writer Miranda Sawyer on the quiet desperation of a midlife crisis.  I had never thought about my age in this way, but thanks to this writer, I have spent more time than I care to admit thinking about it.  It’s scary in some ways – to think that half of my life has been lived but on the other hand, I have had a ton of great experiences and lessons and it has led me to the life I lead now – which is pretty damn good. (see birthday weekend as an example.) She makes some good observations that I can certainly relate to although not necessarily because I agree or it’s been my own personal experience.

It also speaks to something that has been on my mind – quite a few of my friends are splitting up. They are separating, divorcing, up and moving across the country – doing some reflecting on where they are in their lives and deciding it’s not where they want to be anymore. For some, it was a long time coming and best for everyone involved. For others, it hit them like a sucker punch. They were not ready for the life shock that hit them – and are now trying to recover. There is something about hitting middle age. We are not the same people that we were in our twenties (at least I hope we are not), and the things that some people chose during their younger years are not the right things for who they are now.  There is no right/wrong about it – even though I know it happens, it still causes a bit of a pit in my stomach.

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Hansel and Zoolander Talk Politics (and Fashion) on SNL

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The Scoop on Vitamin D

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Vitamin DIt’s been quite a ride the past week or so for me… With the Jonas blizzard and a bunch of other crap going on, I am finding it hard to breathe. I am feeling anxious and restless. I know it’s due to stress, but man it’s hard to deal with. My to do list is getting longer and I am starting to feel like I can’t keep up. And I have asked for help, but sometimes getting help means more work for me.

I am trying to remain calm and remember to take each day as it comes — but man, I would like a break from ‘adulting’ please. When I start to feel this way, I also remember it’s February. Right around this time every year I find myself in a funk. Lack of sunshine, Seasonal Affective Disorder, stinks! I have to start using my Light Therapy Lamp again so I can ensure I get enough Vitamin D.

Winter 2016

Speaking of Vitamin D, a friend of mine recently asked me if I knew anything about Vitamin D. I didn’t really know, so I did some research. Here’s what I found…

According to this blog: DO YOU NEED TO TAKE VITAMIN D?

Skin type affects how much sun you need. Generally speaking, paler skin types tend to produce more Vitamin D and darker skin types tend to produce less. A fair skinned person might only need 10 minutes of exposure around noon while someone that is darker could need up to 2 hours of exposure [8].”

The climate you live in will likely determine whether or not you can get enough Vitamin D through sun exposure alone

Just taking a Vitamin D supplement won’t always fix the problem. Vitamin D and calcium exist in balance. More Vitamin D is produced when calcium is low to increase absorption, and through a negative feedback loop, the body suppresses Vitamin D production when calcium levels are high.

So, you need to get your Vitamin D levels checked to see if you really need to supplement, however I tell everyone to go get a sun lamp if you live in an area where the amount of sunlight varies depending on the season. I feel better after using it consistently and it’s not just in my head.

Kindness Matters

300 Union Plumbers Spent The Weekend Installing Water Filters For Flint Residents For Free

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Its your choice

 

 

Blizzard 2016: Storm Jonas

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Mother Nature

 

Its it’s the historic storm of 2016…Jonas. I am sitting in my house with about 26 inches on the ground and it hasn’t let up. I love when Mother Nature exerts her power and we all are forced to slow down. I wonder how challenging it is for those of us so used to going at life full steam. We are literally snowed in…

 

Jonas snow storm

 

For those not enjoying storm Jonas, you are missing out on life’s reminder that we are powerless against Mother Nature.


 

Behold the View

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Climb the Mountain for the Challenge“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” ― David McCullough Jr.

I’ve been thinking about how much simpler life was when I was a kid. We didn’t have the constant barrage of distractions and choices were limited. If we were sitting on a train or travelling somewhere, what did you do? You slept, talked to someone, played some sort of game or simply got lost in your own thoughts. Now, our choices are endless for almost everything. It has created some wonderful opportunities, but it also has a lot of disadvantages.

Someone recently asked me why I think the world seems angrier and less tolerant. You could argue that the world isn’t any worse, we are just getting information from more sources so we are getting more of a full picture of whatever is going on. I don’t know, but if people have always been this angry, that’s pretty sad.

We are so connected that we don’t stop and just take it all in. I traveled into DC this week for work and while my co-worker and I were walking to the Library of Congress, I was stopping to take it in. I mean – it’s awesomely cool to walk around the monuments and recognize the history. I was snapping pics and just enjoying it even though it was cold and we were late to the meeting (through no fault of our own). I think it was annoying my co-worker, but you know what? People all over the world dream of seeing these buildings and being here. It was not going to kill us to take a few extra minutes to enjoy the view…

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Personalized Diets Work Best

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Morning SunriseIt’s January, which means we are all being bombarded with lots of articles about how to get healthier, more fit, which diet works best etc… Keep in mind that new research suggests that there is no one diet approach that fits all.  A few months ago, Science Daily published  ‘Healthy’ foods differ by individual that highlighted that we all metabolize food differently and a personalized approach is what will work best long term for anyone looking to improve their overall health and wellness. I’m sure that most people don’t need research to prove that -we have seen it personally.

“Ever wonder why that diet didn’t work? A new study tracking the blood sugar levels of 800 people over a week suggests that even if we all ate the same meal, how it’s metabolized would differ from one person to another. The findings demonstrate the power of personalized nutrition in helping people identify which foods can help or hinder their health goals.”

I see it each and every day – I have a ton of friends who eat like crap but don’t gain a pound and it seems that I can’t eat a cookie without putting on a pound. It is what it is -and in order for me to maintain a certain level of health and wellness, I need to be very mindful of what I eat. It sucks but it is what it is. You can’t change genetics.

Related articles about the same study:

Now, let’s be clear though, this study doesn’t mean you can eat all the crap you want if your body metabolizes it quickly and be uber healthy. Eating processed, high in sugar foods are not good for anyone no matter who you are, so a solid foundation of whole, natural foods is still key for long term health and wellness. You can’t be at your best if you eat crap food. You may be one of those ‘lucky ones’ who doesn’t gain weight when you eat crap, but you won’t healthy and at peak performance where it counts.

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I still have David Bowie on my mind – It was clear that he was born to be an artist and it showed in everything he did. What an amazing talent the world has lost…

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David Bowie: The Fabric of My Youth

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David Bowie - RIP Even though David Bowie was as far removed from my real life as possible, waking up to the news of his death from cancer caused my heart to sink. I wouldn’t even say I was a huge fan of his music other than an appreciation of his talent and art –  but to me, he represented the freedom to be different, to reinvent yourself any time, and how to live life on your own terms.  He was a part of the fabric of my youth– the 80’s music scene. Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran – huge musical influencers during the eighties.

Why do deaths of icons hit people so hard?

I think it’s a reminder of the passing of time and the realization that we are getting older, even though it feels like yesterday. Cancer hits everyone. He was 69 years old: way too young to die no matter how. But cancer doesn’t discriminate. You can be famous, rich, kind, amazing or poor and anonymous. Cancer doesn’t care.

Bowie was an artist – writer, creative genius, actor, musician. I love that he was also able to see the humor in his legacy:

He just released his final album last week – and like his musician friend Freddie Mercury, his final video was a parting gift and a goodbye on his own terms.

David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale : The producer of Blackstar confirms David Bowie had planned his poignant final message, and videos and lyrics show how he approached his death

Girl Push Ups Are Not A Thing

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I have to get something off my chest – What is up with “Girl Push ups” aka GPUs?  First off, there is no such thing as a girl push-up (a push up but you are on your knees).  For those that automatically do these type of push ups without even attempting a standard push up – YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET ANY STRONGER or ANY BETTER AT PUSH UPS! Stop doing them this way. It irks me to see and it irks me more when trainers don’t correct or encourage people to do them the correct way. There are modifications that can be done that will get you stronger and are not ‘girl push ups’. I can’t tell you how many times I look around my boxing class and I am one of the very few women who are actually doing a true push up.

How do you train for push ups?

When you get a chance read this “Girl Push-ups” Aren’t a Thing. If you don’t have time, here are some key points to realize:

“Many people don’t realize that the push-up requires more than just the chest and arms. It also activates the shoulders, upper back, abdominals, lower back, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Your body needs to maintain a plank position throughout the movement, requiring a straight and tightened core from neck to toes. Push-ups are awesome for full-body development and everyone who has the right moving parts should do them.”

How do you train for Push Ups?

“To train for push-ups, you need to do push-ups or a movement so truly analogous that there is no practical, functional difference other than the resistance experienced by your body. This means that you need to force your core into a tight, steady plank while experiencing resistance on your chest/arms and moving between contracted/extended arm positions.”

I am constantly urging my friends to do modified push ups instead of on their knees. It means that they change the angle or widen their legs as they are going down. If they insist on doing knee assisted push ups,  I give them a disappointed look and then challenge them to do as many modified push ups as possible before going to their knees. They will NOT get any better at push ups doing GPUs – period, end of STORY!

As a side note: where did this idea that girls can’t do real push ups come from? Is it from the same urban legend creator as the girls can’t do Pull Ups myth? I can do both and know many other women out there who bust the hell out of both of those myths!  We need to rethink how we encourage people to do push ups. I wonder if knee assisted pull ups (GPUs) are how young girls are encouraged to approach push ups day to day. I am going to ask around and see if this is the case and then share information about the modifications that should be encouraged instead.  It only takes one person to start a ripple of change…

Here’s another great write up about Why Knee Push Ups Won’t Make You Any Stronger that includes alternative movements that will get you stronger and on your way to being able to do a full proper push up.

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Goals: Wake Up Earlier

New Year: Time for a Healthy Reset

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12434686_10153377842913741_300310168_nWe decided to adopt a puppy. We have been thinking about it for a while – and the kids are at an age where they can help at least a little with him. So, without further ado – Meet StormTrooper aka Trooper. He’s a 5 month old White German Shepherd and full of energy. He calms down nicely though and seems to be scared of everything around him which is a bit of a bummer. I am hoping it’s the new surroundings and he needs time to warm up.  Almost everyone that has seen him, has shared that German Shepherds were their favorite dog growing up, and they make good family dogs. I’m going to enroll him in training in January which should help. He’s super smart and already sits and fetches – and we are training him to sit and wait at feeding time.  We figured with the kids out of school for a few weeks, it would be a good time to get used to him being a part of the family. It will be interesting to see how he’s going to be next week when we all go back to our regularly scheduled routine and he will be alone for a block of time during the day.

Trooper - 5 months

Post Holiday Reset

Let’s talk about the holidays shall we? I have been out of control eating. I consciously know that I shouldn’t be shoving 80 bazillion cookies in my body, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The past few days I have been getting back on track though – becoming more mindful of what I am choosing and my plan is to start eating according to the Whole 30 approach in January.

The Whole30 program is a good option for those looking for a way to do a healthy reset or discover what food sensitivities you may have. For those interested in learning more about it, here are some great Whole30-related resources, compliments of Melissa Joulwan, author of the Well Fed book series, including 4 weeks of food plans, no recipe required meal ideas, motivational tips, and more.

One of the great things about doing the 30 day program is you can break your sugar habit if you follow the program religiously. It’s not easy, but craving sugar is one of the biggest issues for most people. Once you break that, which makes the first 10 or so days of this program the most challenging, you will begin to feel completely amazing. Your skin, your hair will look healthier. You will sleep better, wake up feeling better. Food will taste better. The list of benefits goes on and on.

Mobility

In the coming year, I am going to spend more time working on my flexibility and mobility. I can feel the tightness in my shoulders and neck and have been having issues with my lower back. Nothing serious but I am smart enough to know it’s only takes an off balance move or a quick jerk and I could be feeling more than tightness. I started rolling out my shoulders and back with a Lacrosse ball after my boxing sessions. I have been introducing some friends to the painful joy of myofascial release after my sessions to. It’s amazing to me how many people don’t realize how important and effective it can be. I know many people use a foam roller, but I have found that using a Lacrosse Ball gives you a deeper roll out which is what my tired, tight muscles need.

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Be Ready: Life Can Change At Any Minute

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Just Breathe It was a stressful morning – Scotty had his regular colonoscopy scan which should be no big deal at this point. It’s a routine scan that he has to have every three years not only because he had colon cancer, but turns out he is a polyp maker. While we were in the pre-op room, waiting for the doctor to call for him, the feelings started building inside. I started to tear up and fill with anxiety which then started to make Scotty uncomfortable. It’s not that there was any inkling that anything was wrong, but it brings up a lot of PTSD-like feelings. The memories of being in the same situation 7+ years ago when I heard he had cancer. I took some deep breaths and told myself it’s all OK -it will be OK and regained control of my emotions. The last thing I wanted to do was upset Scotty as he headed in to get a scope up his hiney. He had not really eating in two days, and no coffee – he didn’t need to see me bubble up with fear.  As they wheeled him away, i stopped in the hallway to watch until he was out of sight. The little voice in my head telling me it was all going to be OK.

An hour or so later, he was wheeled back into recovery laughing with the nurses as he was hooked up to the monitors as he recovered. Dr. Crenshaw explained they found some polyps, which he removed and are being sent for a biopsy, but saw nothing concerning and to come back in 3 years or so. Wheww – I took a deep breath and instantly felt lighter.  I can’t explain the feelings stuff like this bubbles up –  it’s a reminder that life can change at any minute and be ready.

As I waited for Scotty’s procedure to be done, I was reminded how important it is to do what you can to stay healthy. While I was sitting in the waiting room this morning, I looked around the waiting room and noted what some of the people waiting were  eating – most of were eating shit food.  Sugar filled granola bars, a bag of chips and one particularly large guy was sipping on an over-sized Coke. Here we are in a hospital waiting room and people are eating shit. Maybe they don’t care, maybe they don’t know how to eat better, maybe they do eat better and this is a once in a blue moon snack. It was just an observation that caused me to pause…

The week started off great, with a clean scan – I can handle whatever the rest of the week brings and so can you!

 

 

Wellness: No Room for Excuses

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No ExcusesI really didn’t want to get up and workout this morning. I had such a hard time falling asleep last night and when I did, it was after 1AM and I was restless. I am normally a solid sleeper so not sure why it was so tough.  When the alarm blared at 5:00AM I hit snooze – thankfully my internal dialogue started fighting the battle against the ‘sleep monster’ who wanted me to stay in bed. It sounds corny but I name that pull to stay in bed ‘the sleep monster’. The pull seems to have such a strong personality and the ability to talk people out of working out it deserves a name.

When I first started working out and needed to get used to a super early wake up time, I found that having everything ready to go the night before was key in making it easier. I also purposely refused to talk to myself when the alarm went off. That’s when the internal dialogue starts to convince you to go back to sleep. So – I found that being almost like a robot –alarm goes off, get up without even thinking and go get ready. No questions, no excuses, no chance to find a reason.  And like a skill, it takes work but the more you practice – the easier it gets. I am proof of that – I got my butt up this AM, even though I didn’t want to and it would have been easy to hit snooze. I know I was going to feel better physically and mentally when my workout was done and guess what? I did!

The point is if you want to reach your health and wellness goals, you have to work at it – each and every day-even if you are in shape. There is no way around it – with the type of lives most of us live, the less than stellar choices available tend to be much more convenient which makes focus key.

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Quotes: wake up earlier

 

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