Thursday, March 31, 2011

Women and Strength Training

So I've bought a discounted trial membership to a VERY nice LA Fitness close to my place and I also bought 5 Zumba classes for $20 on Groupon, but both will be expiring soon and I only have a couple more weeks before I have knee surgery (which I may not have mentioned, but will elaborate more on later...). Anyways, I'm desperately trying to get my money's worth of these things and I am LOVING the variety!!


I have really grown to love strength training. Again, with my knee, I've been limited in what I can do for exercise, but there are still a lot of options - especially with the weight training.


Now, I find that it is typical to see more men taking advantage of the free weights and weight machines at the gym than women. Maybe it's an image thing - the idea that that's not for women. Maybe it's a confidence issue - worried about looking silly. Maybe it's a lack of knowledge - how to use the machines, or what exercises to do. I'd like to give a few tips I've found helpful in overcoming some of these obstacles...


1. OBSERVE - while you're warming up on the treadmill/bike/whatever, watch someone use that machine. Look at how they move and how the machine moves so you know what you're headed for.


2. START SMALL - If you don't know what weight to start at, start small. If you want to get real technical you can look up the ACSM guidelines about repetitions, sets, etc. Personally I think the main thing is to push yourself - whether you're doing 3 sets of 20 reps at a low weight or 2 sets of 5-8 reps with a heavier weight - as long as you're feeling the burn you're getting stronger. And don't try a bunch of new things all at once - just add a couple new exercises at a time to what you're already comfortable with.


3. HAVE CONFIDENCE - I know it seems like everyone is just watching eachother at a big gym, but I don't believe that's the case. Sure, people notice eachother, but at least for me I'm too lost in my music or thoughts to really care about what people are doing. And even if everyone was watching me make a fool of myself on a new machine, they can't blame me for trying something different to improve myself. Besides, it won't take long before you get real comfortable several machines.


4. ASK - Ask someone who works there for help. You'll have to pay for a personal trainer, but most likely any employee would be happy to show you how to work a machine or two. Especially if it would prevent any injuries.


I've heard (and I've found it's been true for me) that if you're stuck in an weight-loss rut, try some weight training. It really makes your body stronger, more efficient, and it prevents osteoporosis. Plus you don't get as sweaty or hungry as with cardio :)


Anyways, I hope this helps anyone who feels intimidated by the weights!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easy??

Sorry for posting so late, it has been one of those days. May I tell you about it?

I went to work, nothing unusual there, except that it is the end of the quarter tomorrow and ALL OF MY STUDENTS want to see their grades. Forget the fact that I posted their grades on the door (well, not individual grades for assignments, which they should already know because I tell them their grades, but cumulative grades). 

So, I am pulling up grades and explaining why they got this grade on that paper, or this grade on that Seminar...and it is just taking all my patience. 

And then I of course have those students who want to turn in late work to push up their grade. Sorry buddy, we should have been having that conversation weeks ago. 

AND I am still grading essays and Socratic Seminars.

AND I had to bake cupcakes for a mini bridal shower we are having at work tomorrow. That required (another) trip to the grocery store to pick up what I forgot a few days ago.

.......

But in good news, I did not reach for the chocolate. Much like teachergirl found success in not getting donuts, I am somehow managing my stress and not eating my feelings. 

Look at me, I am growing (figuratively).

There won't be anything really substantial in this posting, except that I survived today.

Hope your day was a little easier...


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

celebrating small victories.

i realized today that i have not bought a donut in 2011.

this may not seem like a huge revelation to you, or even a huge accomplishment, but it's the thing that i have wanted to eat the most since i've been largely pregnant. every week, when i go to the grocery store, i look at them. my personal favorite is an apple fritter. our local grocery store makes a good one.  they sell them individually and they sell them in packs of four.

when i walk into the store, i walk by and look at them.  sometimes i have even picked them up.

but i have not yet purchased one, which means that i haven't eaten one.

that's not to say that i haven't eaten other ridiculous things, but somehow realizing that i have resisted that particular brand of my personal temptation is a huge victory to me.

today, i just wanted to write that down and say hooray a little, just for myself. 

what have you done well lately? what do you deserve a momentary celebration for?

--

in other news, i'm about 25 minutes away from having this baby (don't get alarmed--not really, but things are progressing, and i don't think it will be too terribly long), so i may not be around for a little while.  i'll trust that the ladies will let you know when our Baby Girl is born, and i'll be back with tales of new momhood and, most assuredly, some comedic stories of getting back into a workout routine. 

until then, thanks for your continued support of this little blog and, by proxy, of me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Clueless in Virginia. {Sharing discipling dos and don'ts.}

Last night, after putting Avery to sleep, Emma Kate and I were downstairs playing. I went to do the dishes and EK was left to play on her own. It was suspiciously quiet, so I went looking for her. I found her in the place I least wanted to find her (other than a police station), in her sister's crib. She had let herself in, pulled down all of the dresses framed on her wall (along with the frames), climbed in Avery's crib and was undressing her to put on one of the beautiful dresses. Clearly a better outfit for "pwincess" dreaming.


I just about lost my mind. I was so mad. EK got sent right to bed and I cleaned up the mess, nursed Avery back to sleep, and went back downstairs, fuming.


Fast forward to this morning, it's Avery's nap time and she's resting peacefully in her crib. EK and I are downstairs, playing. I go to get some other things taken care of, leaving her by herself. That same quietness came upon the first floor of our house. I immediately dreaded what was about to happen. I began looking for EK and found her, again, in her sister's crib.


This time I did lose my mind. There was plenty of yelling, and even a little, LITTLE swat on the fanny (the only other time this has happened is when she colored all over the wall in her bedroom). Off she went, to sit in her room and cry while I went downstairs to fume.


After her timeout was over, I called her downstairs, gave her a hug, and we talked about what had happened. She then went to play in her playroom while I cleaned up the kitchen. It got quiet again, so I called her name and began to look for her.


This time I found her, not in her sister's crib, but hiding in the corner, quiet as a mouse. I asked her what she was doing and she said, "hidin'." So I asked her what she was hiding from. Her response,


"Mommy is going to yell at me. It makes me sad."


Talk about a major gut check. I struggled to fight back the tears as I realized my two-year old little girl was scared of me. I'm supposed to be the person she runs to when she's scared, not the person she hides from.

So I'm at a loss. I have no clue how to discipline this child. Timeout doesn't really work anymore, at least not for the big offenses (like sneaking into her sister's room and coloring on the walls), I don't want to spank her, and I hate yelling at her. I've said this a lot, but I want to be the type of mother the General Authorities talk about during General Conference. The mother that "rules in righteousness" and never raises her voice.


But how?


How on earth did those mothers discipline their toddlers?


Now I don't know how this fits in here on this blog, but this is the biggest thing on my mind, as I'm sure is on many of other mothers' minds. I figured I would ask the question here and open up the comments section as a sounding board for everyone to share their experiences with this... the good, the bad, and the ugly.


What methods of discipline and positive reinforcement work in your house?

If you don't have children yet, what methods did your mother use when you were growing up?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Let the SUN shine in!

Well maybe it's because the sun has been shining all week here in Texas, but today I would like to sing praises to our bright ball of burning gas! There are good reasons I can't live in constantly rainy and cold places. I love the sun. It clears my skin, gives me color, boosts my mood, and gives me energy. At the hospital, if I have the opportunity, I try to take my patients outside to get some sun and fresh air - it is so revitalizing to them after being confined to a dark cold hospital room!

Plants need the sun to survive and so do humans. Of course with all the skin cancer precautions we do our best to avoid it or block it (and yes, by all means, please be cautious with extended sun exposure), but maybe we're doing too much of that. The sun is not to be feared but to be respected and yes, even loved :). This site nicely outlines some potential benefits of why sunlight is good for you:

http://www.natural-health-restored.com/benefits-of-sunlight.html

There's also a lot of talk about the increasing prevalency of Vitamin D deficiency. Adequate nutrition and sunlight exposure are super important for health!

Probably the best thing I did today was chat with my mother outside in full sunlight after work instead of going home and lying on my bed. It felt wonderful and healthy. I say that everyone should (if weather permits) get your buns outside into the sun! (I'm a poet!! ho ho!)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

A to Z: Ways to Keep Fit








Are you in a fitness rut? How about some new ideas? I thought it would be fun to come up with an A-Z list of things that I can do for exercise when I feel like I’m doing the same thing everyday. Print it out and keep it for when you are hitting a fitness wall or are bored with your normal routine! 

Workout A-Z

A: Aerobics
B: Belly Dancing
C: Cycling
D: Dancing
E: Elliptical
F: Field Hockey
G: Golf
H: Hiking
I: Interval Training
J: Jumping Jacks
K: Kickboxing
L: Lacrosse
M: Medicine Balls
N: Nintendo Wii Fit
O: Off Road Biking
P: Paddleboarding
Q: Qigong Exercises
R: Rock Climbing
S: Stadium Training
T: Tennis
U: Ultimate Frisbee
V: Volleyball
W: Water Aerobics
X: XXX activities J
Y: Yoga
Z: Zumba
 

Links to Health: 





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Percentages

Have you ever been near the end of your workout, totally exhausted and ready to quit when "your" song comes on? You know, that song that inspires you to keep going, to push a little harder...

That song for me has changed over the years, but lately it has been a song by Fort Minor, "Remember the Name". It is a great song for running...when it comes on, I find that extra strength to run a little further.

Particularly when the chorus comes on:

"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!"

Upon closer look at the percentages that the song offers, isn't it true? 
10% Luck
20% Skill
15% Power of Will
5% Pleasure
50% Pain
100% Remember the Name

But I actually want to change the 100%. I change it to 100% worth it. 

As I am working out or cooking or ignoring the orange glaze rolls sitting in my fridge that my roommate made (true story), I have to remember why I live my life the way I do. Not only am I getting healthier, I am fitting into smaller clothes, I am more confident in myself and being an example to others. 

And all that makes the 50% pain worth it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

choosing us.

we live in a fast-paced world.  we're plugged in, connected, anxiously engaged, and forever marking off a to-do list that never seems to end. 

a little snapshot of my daily to-do list routine


to a certain extent, my ability to manage all of this at once, to varying daily degrees of success, makes me feel like i can take on almost anything. it's not hubris or a great sense of my own superpowers, but more a belief, demonstrated by results, that we can handle all that we are given when we need to.

but i also am coming to believe that there are times and seasons when the other choices are more important to make--the choices not to work as much, the choice to invest in more important things.

over the past few days, i have had to make some decisions about my workload after the baby comes.  this means that i have turned down a few classes during summer so that i can spend more time at home with Baby Girl. this might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but two things that are important to know: a) i rarely turn down classes, as i consider them to be blessings and i don't want to burn any bridges and b) i am the primary income earner for our family.  i am working enough for us to be fine, but i am making choices that are more about Baby Girl and me than about the bottom line and doing things the way i've always done it.

that impulse to balance, to choose differently based on different circumstances, is new for me.  i am the one who taught 8 classes in one semester while in my first trimester of pregnancy--i am a little bit nuts.  i can't say that it was an easy choice, but i also can't say it was hard. i think it was just...different. 

it occurred to me, as i was pondering about what to do and asking my husband, that it was a choice of health and well-being for everyone rather than just a financial one.  that hasn't be the case thus far in my employment decisions, and it was a strange moment to realize that i was choosing ME (and our family, to the degree to which i need to be healthy and able to care for our Baby Girl well, in all the ways that my body will be asked to do so).

but sometimes, you just have to make the new choice, the choice that seems less familiar but more wise, even if it seems foreign to your experience.

it doesn't have to be maternity leave that governs these choices. what do you have in your life that you continue to say "yes" to that might, actually, be forcing you to say "no" to yourself? are you overextending yourself at work? are you taking on too much with friends and family, negating the need for a little bit of you time? are you choosing yourself enough?

sometimes, we need to shake up our to-do list.  when's the last time you put yourself at the top?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Herbs in the Home and Garden


SPRRRRRRRRING!!!

Do you know how much I've been waiting for Spring? It has been a very cold Winter in Virginia for this Florida girl. While I've loved the snow, I've hated the gray. Gray. Gray. Gray. My, that word even looks ugly the more you write it.

But the grey is on its way out, giving way to the beauty that is Virginia Spring. Oh my! The trees are all blooming and the daffodils are popping up everywhere. I can't get enough of them. My phone has about 50 pictures of roadside blooms. All this beauty has inspired me to do something I've always wanted to do, grow an herb and vegetable garden. Thanks to a very talented friend, the vegetable garden is well on its way.

For now, let me show you my new beautiful herbs. These babies sit on the sill of our bay window by our kitchen table.

From left to right, we have Peppermint, Pineapple Sage, Lavender Hidcote, and Curled Parsley. We're very excited to brew our own herbal tea with the Peppermint. Plus it just smells so nice. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the Pineapple Sage, for now I just love to smell it. It has the most sweet pineapple scent. The lavender will get used in potpourris and the curled parsley will get used in just about everything.

My kitchen window makes me smile every time I walk up to the sink. The little herbs are just so cheery to me, and their scent is wonderful. From the left, I have Italian Oregano, Lemon Thyme, standard Thyme, and Spice Island Rosemary.

This is Lemon Thyme. I bought this in Colonial Williamsburg at their old garden (what a treat!). The leaves are slightly variegated and the plant has the cleanest lemon scent. I love how it looks in this yellow pot.

This is Spice Island Rosemary. It's supposed to have a bolder flavor and scent than standard rosemary, but I don't know about that yet, I just bought it because it was pretty. It's also one of my favorites.

There are also herbs outside. From the left I have Garlic Chives, "Hillary's Sweet Lemon" Mint, Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Sage Berggarten, and standard Chives.

Growing herbs is about as easy as growing any kind of garden weed (I'm sure we've all grown plenty of those). These need soil, sun, and water. If you want to really treat them nice, give them a little fertilizer. I've chosen to plant the majority of mine is containers so that I can move them in and out at my pleasing. I'll be planting Sweet Basil and Chamomile in the garden.

Having these herbs around has really been a joy. I hope you give it a try. You can find tons of varieties at your local nursery (the big home centers will have your basics) and will have so much fun collecting your favorites.

Happy Spring!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is sugar a drug?

I had this debate with a friend of mine a couple years ago. He insisted that sugar could be classified as a drug and I refused to agree. To me, because your body needs carbohydrates (which essentially all break down to a form of sugar) for energy to function it didn't seem fair to label it as a "drug". When I think of "drugs" I think of man-made chemicals, addiction, body and mind altering substances and it seems so negative. But the more I think of it, there are many ways that I believe my friend's point is valid. 

It DOES alter my body when I don't have it and when I do...

I crave it daily...


These days a lot of our sugars come from man-made products like high fructose corn syrup...


It affects my mood...

and basically I think I'm addicted to it.


So I've been putting myself on "sugar-free"diets for the past couple weeks. I'm kind of an all or nothing type of girl and I find I have an easier time sticking to one drastic rule than exercising self-control. My hope that in avoiding sugar all together, I will crave it less and natural foods and natural sugars will taste better and be more satifying to me. I must say I've had moderate success this week. Although I've allowed myself a 2-3 "cheats" a week (which I think is acceptable), I've stopped buying candy bars at lunch and snacking on sweets when I get home from work. Over all I feel pretty good. I've done this before a week at a time, but the more I think about it, it needs to be a lifestyle change for me.


There are a couple flaws with this system though. First, if I allow myself a "cheat" I usually cheat pretty bad. It's like I've given myself a free pass to whatever and that shouldn't be the case. Also, I've been substituting with "sugar-free" desserts and drinks. If I'm really that worried about man-made chemicals and what not, that doesn't make any sense. I go back and forth between how harmful sugar substitutes can be versus the real thing.


Anyhow, it's not just girl scout cookies I have a love/hate relationship with - I think it's all forms of sugar and I just wanted to share some thoughts on the subject. I think it's interesting how our palates have changed over time (especially here in America) and we are so obsessed with flavor instead of nutrition like we should be. Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Adventures


First and Foremost – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it reminds me of my grandpa – a true Irishman. We still have his green suit (as in, emerald green) that he wore to work every year on St. Patrick’s Day.

Now on to what’s new…

In case you didn’t realize, having a week with absolutely nothing to do but travel, relax, and spend time with loved ones…it’s the ticket kids. I came into this week feeling refreshed and reenergized…productive and on point.

Now don’t get me wrong. When I say relax…I rarely mean sit on the couch watching Oprah (which I did yesterday for the first time in years…that’s nice too actually!). My husband and I were on the go almost the entire week. First, we went to Jacksonville to meet his mom and sister for dinner. They were in from out of state, but we had to head back that night. However, we then went back to Jacksonville two days later for an interview I had. From Jacksonville, we went to Orlando, where we had dinner on our anniversary at the restaurant where we had our wedding reception. Our table was literally in the spot of our first dance! It was possibly the best meal I have ever had. The next night we saw Wicked (p.s. if the tour comes anywhere near you, do go! I have no words) and the following day we came home. I put my husband on a plane for Houston and he was back 24 later. The next morning…back to Orlando for my friend’s birthday. I know it seems like a lot, but traveling IS my prime form of relaxation. I am constantly the “anywhere but here” girl and luckily, I am married to a similarly minded man.

My husband and I like to find ways to keep that sense of adventure going even when we can’t travel. Lately, our way of doing that has been to go biking on Saturday mornings and a couple nights a week. We are enjoying the weather now, before those wicked Florida summers set in.

On our nighttime rides, we usually just go exploring nearby neighborhoods and it’s a much more leisurely ride. It usually ends up being about half an hour after dinner (which equates to 5-6 miles at our pork chop filled pace).

Much preferred though, are our Saturday morning rides. We have found a good list of nearby paved and unpaved trails, and we have just been trying them out. We usually go out to breakfast first, and then head out. I try to remember to take pictures, but I haven’t been very good about it. I use the Runkeeper app on my phone to track our average pace, average speed, distance, and duration (though I tend to want to stop anytime I see something I deem interesting) – and we just explore until we are ready to head back. It usually ends up being a much longer ride than those on weekdays.

Here are some pictures I took during some of our Saturday rides:


A picture of the view from part of the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail



My husband on one of the trails



While on a trail in Micanopy, Florida, we came across this cool old house.

The stairs inside the house were still intact


We did an unpaved trail to Paynes Prairie.

To get out onto the prairie, our bikes either had to go over the fence or through this gate. My husband was in charge of handling that.


I wanted to see some bison. Alas, birds, cows, and horses only.
A picture of me at the base of the lookout tower.

Yes, I stopped to take a picture of an armadillo.


I'm always on the lookout for animals! 

Links to Health:







Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring in the air?

These are some thoughts that I have had over the last few days.  They may seem like ramblings, but they make sense. I promise.

Is anyone else having a really hard time getting over the time change? I know it is only an hour, but my body is acting as though I have deprived it of weeks of sleep. 

But I will say that I am loving having the extra sunlight. The sun is no longer going down as I am getting home for work, which means that I can be more productive (although the amount of stuff that I am grading is not changing. I have to put my foot down somewhere).

Plus- I don't know where you live, but in DC, it is starting to get warmer. It is still in the 30s when I go to work, but by the afternoon it is usually in the 50s, which means I can walk to my car without my coat!

Do you know where all this is leading? Spring is on its way and with that comes the chance to spend more time outside (although I tried to go kite flying the other day. No go. It was too cold!)! I am so excited to be able to hop on my bike and ride to the Capital or to Mt. Vernon (I have only done that once, but I like the thought that I can). And play softball outside (I am joining a league this season!) or sand volleyball (there is usually a group that gets together on Saturday mornings). 

The point is to be outside.

So get out there and enjoy the sun! 
But don't get sunburned. It's still too early for that.
 
This is what DC looks like in the spring. I am so excited!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

your own worst enemy.

i'm going to admit it, right here and now: the last month of pregnancy is taking a toll on me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

i've decided that i am absolutely my own worst enemy.

i knew this before, because in this journey of healthy living, it seems the only one who can really make me feel good and terrible about myself, like a total failure, is myself. 

it's that persistent, pesky voice of self-loathing that really gets me, the one that violently refuses to acknowledge positive efforts and instead focuses persistently on any small measure of human frailty or weakness, pointing them out as the sum total of my character.

normally, when this happens, i can DO something about it. i can arrest it by taking control of certain things, especially things about my physical world. i can go to an extra gym class, making me feel strong and limber and capable. i can watch what i eat and the weight will come off. the math works, and i feel more in control.  i can get a good night's sleep. 

i don't have that kind of control right now. 

in any way.

for me, that's a challenge that goes beyond the lack of sleep or the painful hips or the pregnancy waddle or the assortment of the other humbling and unpleasant side effects. it's all mental.  to try to get outside of my own head, to try to flip the switch from something negative to something positive, is very difficult for me.

i don't think this is foreign to anyone's experience, really.  i bring it up not to call attention to myself (i really don't need to do so...i get plenty of stares wherever i go nowadays), but to suggest that we stop that voice more quickly than we normally do. 

we often tend to let this voice of self-loathing, self-deprecating criticism derail our progress far too often.  we listen to it more readily than the many outside of ourselves who tell us the positive, good, happy news that we are beautiful, accomplished, dynamic, strong, incredible--or whatever it is that is the particular truth we refuse to believe about ourselves. 

i don't care who you are: self-loathing gets you nowhere fast.  it might motivate you for a while, but in a short amount of time, it will turn every choice into a war fraught with guilt and instability.  it creates a gaping chasm that can never be filled, because no matter what you do, you can never make your worst enemy happy.

so what do we do? when we're doing our best, and we still feel the encroaching shadow of this negativity, what do we do to flip the switch?

i've been thinking about this, for obvious reasons.  i have decided that, though i can't work the plan that i normally work in these situations, i can take control. i can shift my focus.  for me, that means making a more concerted effort on developing the elements of my life that i do have control over: my spirituality, for example, is one of the aspects that i am choosing to focus on. i will be reading my scriptures more often and making more of an effort in my prayers.  i can stay busy with the many other things i have in my life, like my work, which make me feel accomplished. 

i can actively choose what i focus on.  so can you.  what you choose to let inside your head, what you choose to allow yourself to get wrapped up in, is what will become your focus. 

do you want your focus to be positive or negative? i think we all know the answer to that.

it doesn't make the other stuff go away.  i will continue to get bigger. i may have to continue to fight the feeling that, somehow, that's a bad thing.  it's the last month, and it's the hardest.  that's okay.  we all have the things that make us cringe, that bring us to our knees. 

i think it's what we do with those things, how we react to them, how we fight back, so to speak, rather than surrender, that sets us apart and determines our level of success.

so tonight, i'll read a chapter of scripture. tomorrow, i'll grade some things and i'll do yoga if only because i will spend 50 minutes breathing deeply.  i will go to church and try to serve others.  as i do, i'll try to maintain my focus on what i CAN do, what i HAVE done, instead of what i can't control or what isn't working well.

in the process, i believe i'll begin to feel much better about everything. 

flip the switch, y'all.  don't let that voice take over.  it's just not worth it. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

spring break!

some of us are enjoying a little well-deserved vacation time with our husbands to celebrate anniversaries (happy anniversary, meghan!) or the impending arrival of new babies (5 weeks to go!), so we here at smmwr decided that we would declare this spring break for everyone!




your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go outside more often than you do and enjoy the weather, whatever it is, in your neck of the woods. rediscover an outdoor passion or transfer your normal treadmill workout to the sidewalks in your neighborhood.  strap a baby in a stroller and head to the park.  open the windows in your house and let the breeze blow in.  if you're at work, take a walk during your lunch break or roll the windows down as you drive home.

enjoy the beautiful world that we have been blessed with and do a little spring breaking in your own special way.  even if you're not free of your responsibilities, we hereby give you permission to pour some lemonade and put your feet up on a chair outside. 

you deserve it, and so do we.

we will be back next week with new posts, so don't leave us! and we expect you to be back with stories of how you made the most of your spring break.

be safe and be healthy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting to know the basics...

Today's post will be by Alina's best friend, Adrienne, who hails from Texas but currently resides in California.

Hello! To give you a little background info about me, I'm a certified yoga instructor with a masters in American Art and Literature now working as a supplement counselor in southern California.  While this isn't my first time working with natural health, I continually learn new things everyday, especially as trends come and go (Atkins anyone?).  Vitamins and supplements can be tricky and overwhelming as we start self-diagnosing all the things we'd like to improve, but there are three basics I recommend to everyone for foundational health: a good probiotic, your omegas, and a multivitamin.
 
Working in the natural food industry has always been an interesting place full of interesting people- the jocks, the old women with flaming red hair that want to live forever, mothers who want their children to be perfect, and then the rest of the normals who just want to take care of themselves day to day.  For those of us in that last category, there are some basics that everyone can benefit from.  
 
We'd like to think we can eat healthily enough to get our vitamins and minerals, but with the stresses of everyday life and overproduction of foods, we actually miss out on a lot of those vitamins and minerals our body craves.  This is where a good multivitamin comes in. 

Then there are the omegas: your fish oils, primrose oils, borage oils, and flaxseed oils.  Generally, go for fish oils (the best are derived from smaller fish: anchovies, sardines, etc., but salmon's always a good choice as well.  Less chance of mercury poison in these.).  But if you're a vegetarian or vegan go for flaxseed oils.  When you look for a good omega, look at the back and look at the amount of DHA's and EPA's.  DHA is for your neural tissue; builds up your brain, etc.  Then EPA is for your heart, skin, and hair health. 

Lastly, your probiotic: the good bacteria in your digestive system.  With all of the antibiotics that we take and the overprocessed foods, the good bacteria that helps us digest our food gets wiped out and we get left with all sorts of digestive problems.  With a good probiotic, the flora in your system gets replaced and your system gets a boost in the right direction. 

Of course, all of these will vary according to quality and cost, but just know that most of the time you get what you pay for.  All in all, though, it's better to have something than nothing.  

What do you take to keep you healthy?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When You Choose to Lose


I had all these fabulous plans for numerous workouts and perfected eating over the past seven days, because I know that next week will be spotty due to anniversary and vacation plans.

I got in one workout in the last week.

I had fried ice cream for dinner last night and Girl Scout cookies for breakfast today.

Why?

·      When the glorious spring we are having in Florida brings frequent weather changes…and those frequent weather changes, bring migraines to Meg.
o   Two in the last week. One of which left me sick in the bathroom at work.
·      When that dang pollen (that seems to be EVERYWHERE) causes incessant sneezing, itchy eyes, and dull daily headaches.
·      When big brother, who has always lived a stones throw away (if not in the same house), finds out he is moving to Chicago. This weekend.
·      When a research study goes against all plans and exams seem so tough.
·      When dad is bit by brown widow.
·      When decisions need to be made and work files pile up.

When these things happen, my week can get away from me. I’m not using these things to justify my deep fried and lazy decisions. I know I could have fit in workouts and planned eating if I really tried. But sometimes, I choose to just let the week win...and I choose not to beat myself up about it.  

Fresh starts abound….and we know I’m all about the fresh start.


 A picture from a farewell dinner tonight with my brother.
           
Links to Health:



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wellness

As of nine this morning, I had no clue what I wanted to write about. Whenever this happens, I call my mom for ideas or check the newspaper to see what is going in the world. 

But I could not find inspiration today. 

 Insert Laura, my best friend.
(This was taken at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. That is why we have a wish bone...)

I called her and she came to the rescue with an article from Amazing Wellness Magazine
So, even though she didn't plan it, Laura becomes a guest blogger today (although I will insert information for clarification). 

This is what she emailed me: 

This is from a magazine called Amazing Wellness (winter 2011 issue).  The article is called, "Total Heart Health: Keeping Your Heart in Shape", by Johnny Bowden, PHD, CNS.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Several years ago, explorer Dan Buettner visited four regions in the world where the inhabitants consistently lived longer and healthier than anywhere else.  These areas also had some of the highest numbers of healthy centenarians in the world: Sardinia, of the coast of Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and the Nicoya Peninsula, off of Costa Rica." 

The article goes on to say about how these areas eat meat, sparingly and they are local, farm-raised animals feed grains with no hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.  They eat low sugar, lots of fruits and vegetables (some eat tofu), and lots of nuts and beans.  They don't really worry about saturated fats because their diets are so rich in high fiber foods, and foods with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that come from whole foods and other things that they naturally lower their risk for heart disease. 

Isn't that a contrast from the typical American way of eating? Imagine if we all subscribed to this way of eating...the world (particularly the U.S.) would have much fewer cases of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Wouldn't it be great if eating healthy was naturally ingrained in our minds? Imagine not having to worry about how many calories I consumed or how many grams of sugar I had that day....because it all evened out.

One day, that will be me. Until then, I will continue to struggle with the choice of eating a carrot or eating an Oreo.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

the 20 minute solution.

a few weeks ago, i spent the entire day dreading the dishes that were piled in my sink.  i have a dishwasher, but it was full of clean dishes (which i LOATHE unloading) and my sink strainer was full of other clean pots and pans, and so the task seemed fairly overwhelming to me.

(this is much like today, though my attitude has changed from dread to apathy, but that's another discussion for another time.)

i spent the day getting more and more angry at the mere presence of the dishes, feeling used and abused by the reality of life in a house where stuff has to keep getting done because We Are Adults, and when i did finally go in and do the stupid dishes, it was late afternoon and i was in a colossally bad mood.



and it only took me 20 minutes, from start to finish, including cleaning the counters.

my kitchen was clean in 20 minutes.

this was just a revelation to me.  i spent hours and hours and hours getting myself worked up over a task that took me 20 minutes to do well.  what a monumental waste of time and energy.

i share this not to pat myself on the back (as i mentioned, the dishes are a constant source of annoyance to me, and one of my duties today is to tame them once more), but to suggest that one of the ways that we can help ourselves lead balanced lives is to a) put things into perspective and b) have a plan. 

now, when i'm feeling particularly annoyed by a household chore, i set my little ladybug timer (which was a suggestion of a dear friend of mine).  if i'm not done in 20 minutes, i'm allowed to do something else for a while and come back.  it makes it manageable, at least psychologically, and i'm always amazed that it's almost always done in that time. 

the 20 minute rule is new for me, and i've not perfected it, as evidenced by the conspicuous pile of dishes that's part of my to-do list, but i'm working on developing a strategy to balance keeping my home a house of order, a place where peace can reign, with the rest of my life. i am just never going to be one of those people who enjoys cleaning, but i can enjoy the fruits of my labor.

the 20 minute rule helps me stay that way. 

what are your strategies for keeping the home that you live in conducive to peaceful, balanced life? i'm dying to shamelessly use all of your strategies!