Keep it healthy and try going vertical

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I will preface this post by stating, I am 49 yrs old. (WOW! Hold on… when I say it aloud it makes me a bit dizzy!) I am sharing that information because if you choose to read on, it impacts the content. I am not 20 or 30 where one’s metabolism is higher and exercise comes a bit easier… ok, now continue…

Healthier living can sometimes lead to the domino effect… one healthy swap of double veggie instead of fries with the meal is an excellent example. Water or club soda instead of regular soda or even worse, diet soda, just a few times a day has a huge impact on your sugar, calorie, and chemical intake.

At first you may think, “it’s just one meal, seriously how much can that impact my weight or attitude toward eating and food?” but it does. Your body does not want to be filled with chemicals (yes you are taking in chemicals daily, stop it!) or too much food. It was built to run at an optimum weight with a specific fuel intake, just as any amazing machine or engine does. Your automobile will run much better on high octane fuel than the very low octane fuel option. It will take several tankfuls to notice but it does indeed happen. The same idea can be said for your body. Fueling it with ‘high octane’ and healthy choice foods will allow it to run more effectively and more efficiently.

One of my mantras — if I don’t buy it, I won’t eat it. Trust me when I say this wasn’t easy for me either. Years ago I would stand in the cookie aisle and just stare at the Oreos (or ice cream pie) remembering their chocolatey goodness and devouring half a package without much thought (not in the aisle at the store, although the thought had occurred to me on more than one occasion). Present day, if I had one, it one be just that, just one. I don’t miss them and they are much too sweet. But how did I stop eating them? I stopped buying them; what a concept! What quenches my desire for chocolate these days without eating three pounds of it? Dark chocolate; not the high sugar content dark chocolate (typically distributed in the US) but something along the lines of Lindt chocolate. One or two bites and it satisfies the craving without packing on the high doses of poorly constructed chocolate.

As one small healthy choice will lead to another… you may become more aware of what you eat, how you feel, and take a second look at unhealthy foods and the price tag that comes with it. “Do I want to trade that delicious spinach/cheese/artichoke dip for an extra 2 miles walk?” “Do I really need 3 glasses of wine instead of 2? Tastes delicious now but my sleep will pay dearly for it”… It takes 3500 calories to burn off one pound of weight. EEK! Food will slowly start to become equated with exercise or other trade-offs without much forethought with that figure lingering in your head.

A body in motion stays in motion. I have started to be much more consistent with exercise this last month or so and in doing so I found it somewhat shocking that after a workout, even though I was exhausted, an hour later I didn’t want to just sit down, I wanted to keep moving in some way. I wouldn’t categorize it as having ‘more’ energy as some people do, but I did recognize that I didn’t want to just sit and watch television. It usually ended with the thought of, well guess I will do some chores that I absolutely hate (scrubbing the bathtub is always last on the list). This didn’t happen at first. At first all I wanted was to lay down, catch my breath, pray I would not be too sore to move the next day, and ultimately nap. It was a solid week and a half of exercising before I felt comfortable with it and then moved onto the ‘staying in motion’ feeling.

Looking forward to the ‘sore’. I have had to ramp up my workouts just so I can get that ‘sore’ feeling back. A feeling of- I’m not sure if I can walk let alone hold a spoon- may be alarming at first, but then I started looking forward to it because I knew it found a new muscle group that was in hiding. Simply using the treadmill (notice I didn’t say running, because I hate running, all I do is a fast paced walk and use the incline for more calorie burn), using the stair climber, or the yoga sessions plateaued and I needed to tweak it up. I needed to know I was testing and pushing my body to a different level. I didn’t want anything too extreme (I am looking at you CrossFit) but something to change things up to my weekly routine.

If you are already an avid fan of exercise, try something new. Bring your workout vertical! So here is your laugh of the day, pole exercise. It is not dancing, there are no sexy moves, it is using the pole as an instrument against your body and gravity to pull yourself vertical or push yourself horizontal against the pole. Not many forms of exercise will have you using a vertical plane and a multitude of different muscle groups, especially the tiny ones you didn’t know you had. Running, planking, weight training, all great exercise but they continue to use the typical horizontal plane that we all exist on. Start thinking pole exercise and aerial silks to change things up. Adding the new dimension of vertical against gravity in addition to requiring the extra balance (and being off the ground) is a whole new challenge you will welcome to your exercise routine.

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A better night sleep. Who doesn’t want that? Once you take that first step to a healthier you, sleeping through the night can be a long lost welcomed friend. Walk up and down the stairs of your house a few times, around your house or yard, up and down the street, start small so you don’t become overwhelmed and give up with an unattainable goal. Don’t be afraid to push yourself that extra 5 steps because they will add up quickly and before you know it, you will want more; one step more is one step more.

Challenge yourself, not against others. Coming in last place means you were in the race! (metaphorically speaking) Just keep moving, that is the key to all this. The eating healthy and constant moving works hand in hand. You will find you won’t want to do just one or the other, they actually feed off each another and it becomes effortless; just be patient, give it time.

It is not easy, that is a given, but the rewards are huge. Will you live forever? Nope. But for those remaining years, you will definitely feel much better and more than likely, cut down on many diseases and health problems by doing so. The endorphins will rise to keep you feeling happier and make the tough times not so tough.

Keeping weight off is much easier than losing it. If this old body can do it, I know YOU can too!

I am grateful for…

A very intelligent, wise, and overflowing with love individual named Patreeko inspired me to write about what I am grateful for (or at least the short version/part I).

junglelove
Q – Hiding in the jungle

Without putting a concrete order to the list, let’s start with the parents. Without knowing their background, meeting them for the first time you would think they were on top of the world (but one they worked very hard to obtain). Very meager childhoods did not dissuade them from striving to meet their full potential. They enjoyed everything life had to offer. Even when faced with working three jobs to own his own home and put food on the table for a family of six, my father did not give up and could see the bigger picture. A college degree became very important in the working world if you wanted to move on up and even though my mom was a full time housewife, he pushed her toward the same (as they would say, knowledge is something that no one can take from you). He always maintained a beautiful garden, the envy of all the neighborhood. Growing each plant by seedling, they flourished, spread, and brought amazing colors to all who went by.

Graduating with a high honors Bachelor’s degree to teach, was the obvious choice for my mother. She had so much to offer young people that was not offered in school books. Life is not all black and white (I am looking at you Math) but having a deep passion, appreciating, understanding, and acknowledging the utmost importance of music, art, dance, languages, cultures, travel… it is all related and connected to the ‘black and white’ and if you don’t know and understand these pieces to the puzzle of life, than you are not getting the whole picture, and that’s just sad. She was a docent at a very prestigious art museum and would give tours every Sunday. With a very young me in tow, I learned more about the subtleties of color and symbolism in art than any six year old needs. So yes, very grateful for their wisdom, their commonsense, their teaching me (and my daughter) about the bigger things in life and how to push through, focus, understand, analyze, problem solve, and keep it moving, keep it positive, the ‘you got this’ attitude.

Next up, the kid, or Goose as she is known in this blog. Through no fault of her own, she has pushed me to become a better person. One with more patience and understanding (although she may not agree with that statement but it is on-going and always working on it), one that makes me look deeper into my own self to do what is right and not what is easy, to try my best to be a good role model, to be less selfish, to enjoy what life has to offer us, and at many times, make our own fun. She is the bright ball of smiles and laughter you would expect any child to be and even to this day, her naivety is a breath of fresh air in this sullied society. Our time together has been unmatched…all the day trips, international vacations, daily up and downs…I wouldn’t change any of it. She has always had the gift of giving and has found a way to bring her sunshine to those that may not have it. She currently works as a caregiver (while working on her nursing degree) for the elderly and while not all are homebound and alone, she offers companionship and many laughs for them and their family members. Her patients are very lucky to have someone who loves to assist and support them as much as she does, for growing old can be a very lonely and scary process these days. She is simply an amazing person that has so much to offer, on so many levels, to so many people.

I am very grateful for The Q – can’t talk about her and you can’t make me. But she most definitely was my world.

I use the word ‘friend’ sparingly because there are very few people who actually can be honored by it. In today’s world it is overused and tainted. Very few people who will drop everything and be there for you when you need it, no questions asked, no judgement given, and not ‘yes’ you to death but one that will tell the truth for your own good, no matter how much it hurts and want the same in return. I have had the privilege of befriending Brienne (like Brie cheese and then N), “DubaSue” and her dolphin move, one that shall remain anonymous, and Rebecca (aka Beth to her family, she is Rebecca to me). Each one of them has been a part of my life for well over 15 years and although we don’t get to see one another or talk as often as we would like, truth is, I know I could meet up at any given point and carry on as if no time had passed, just a few more gray hairs to count the years since we last met.

To end this ‘Part I’ of sorts I will say, I am very grateful for my health. I thank God every night for my health; mental, physical, and emotional. It does need a little tweaking here and there. I am now in the battle of the bulge mode; maintaining what others may consider to be a ‘normal’ weight but it bugs the heck out of me. If I don’t contain it now, it will only become an issue later one. Being middle aged brings on a plethora of health issues and thus far (knock on wood) I have been blessed with a body that requires little to no maintenance; no medication, no surgeries, no therapy…yes very blessed and it does not go without thanks.

Days go by quickly and it is very important to take the time to remember what we are grateful for, even if it is not a list of things, but merely one or two (this sounds corny but every day I thank the man out loud, that invented indoor plumbing and the hot shower-that guy rocks!).

Look hard, find that thing you are grateful for today, big or small…embrace it and be grateful for it, today and every day.

 

The Scarlet Snowflake

scarletsnowflakeI fear I am branded with the ‘Scarlet Snowflake’ because of my love of Snow.

I hear the whispering behind my back, the looks of utter disgust when I share my secrets of stolen moments watching Snow quietly fall during the day or through the streetlight’s glow at night.  How could I possibly be in love with Snow – he is so selfish and has no care for anyone and their driveway! He laughs at how many layers of clothing you must endure to step outside for just a moments time…yet I know he loves me back, with the frozen smiles I have daily, listening to the Cardinals that only sing their melodious song in the winter or the small animal tracks that I find across the freshly powdered path…

He has not been so timid in his love for me, sharing well over 5 feet of his fluffy dandruff and still looking as clean cut and magnificent as the first time I lay eyes on him. And as the wind blows it is hard not to be reminded of Fabio on his most romantic novel cover…swirling long locks of tiny flakes in all directions and just a hint of a crooked smile.

YES I LOVE SNOW! – There I said it for all to hear !

I cannot contain my feelings any longer!

I am a traitor and outcast, and ready to endure the pitchforks (shovels, ice-filled snowballs…) of the village people! You cannot break true love!

(picture credit: unknown)

Love is in the air and in your soul

loveheart“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” – Judy Garland

After all it is Valentine’s Day so why not throw a little love out there. Even if you are not in a relationship at the moment, some point in your life you probably could relate to what Ms. Garland had to say.

That moment…that fleeting moment of a whisper or kiss truly does stir in your core and not even Father Time can erase that feeling. All you have to do is close your eyes and it comes flooding back to you, it may even propel you into another dimension (at least it seems that way) it is just that powerful.

There are so many layers to love it cannot be broken down, sorted out, or analyzed.

Maybe that is why it never leaves us, even when our heart is broken, there is still a sliver of it left behind.

 

(picture credit: http://flikie.s3.amazonaws.com/ImageStorage/d8/d86d6070173f46edab259e790120da28.jpg)

What is behind Door #1?

“That” room…  This is clearly not Let’s Make a Deal. There is no new car, no boat, no vacation, and not even a donkey with a sombrero and a serape.

My daughter does not like to clean. It’s a fact plain and simple. If the mess it is out of sight, even more so. That being said, I know there is a place in her apartment that even SHE dare not go.

When I see the door that leads to “that” room, it sends shivers through me.

Scenario One: Not unlike the scene from Poltergeist when the closet door opens to the abyss of hell. The only way I will open “that” door is if I have a priest (or little person with a funny hat and big sunglasses to clean the room in a spiritual sense) and a bucket of holy water.

Scenario Two: Opening “that” door could also be a black hole, sucking all of existence through it into another dimension. Stephen Hawking would be afraid to open “that” door.

Scenario Three: Have you seen Monsters Inc.? There is no proof that opening “that” door may not lead to 1000s of monsters and their factory of closet doors to scare children. I am an adult and “that” door scares me.

Keep the scenarios going…. What do you think is behind “that” door.

Reply to: No, Thanks – Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?

Toxic fumes, tetanus shots, and the Big Wheel

While on FB I came across a little dittie that reminded me of the fearless generation from whence I came: the 70’s. If you were born a bit before then, the 70’s were just the right age when the stars aligned and curiosity, fearlessness, and determination joined forces and nothing stopped you.

Kids didn’t use seatbelts, let alone have their own car seat. Your seatbelt was your mom throwing her arm across you to keep you from smashing your tiny flexible skull against the dashboard (which only worked 20% of the time). There were lapbelts but, admit it, pretty lame. And pick-up trucks with an open bed – well now we are talking changing a three-seater into a jamb-as-many-friends-in-the-back-seater! The cargo area of a station wagon? Nope this was actually used as a free for all play pen for the kids. Wrestling, laying down for naps, having a picnic, all while dad tried not to lose his shit driving in beach traffic so you and your brother can eat a sand-wich; literally sandwich filled with sand from your sticky fingers (crunch crunch).

Creepy Crawlers… yes please let me inhale toxic fumes, I didn’t want to ace those bubble tests in third grade anyway. And the plastic glob of goo at the end of the straw that magically turned into a huge balloon? Inhale and residue on my fingers which will inevitably go into my mouth at some point, SCORE! Whoops forgot about the lead paint toys too. Back in the day there was no other way to adhere paint to toys to lead was added and those cute little wooden blocks that were used as a teething device was now dropping the SAT scores by the minute. Ivy League schools are overrated anyway.

Sunscreen was called baby oil back in the day. If you weren’t rocking a golden tan or peeling from a summer’s worth of sunburns you were lame and had the worst summer ever. And if you dared show up with Noxema on your nose to lessen the pain, you got your shoulders slapped to remind you of your burn there as well…. good times.

Games: lawn darts were made of razor sharp blades about 6 inches long and you tossed them 10 yards back and forth at one another with the hopes it will land in the  hoolahoop on the ground for points. The company had to completely revamp its design with soft edges because people where getting hurt. Who got hurt with this game? Fess up!  You have to be kidding.  You didn’t know that when that 6 inch blade came even remotely in your direction that you wouldn’t move out of the way?! That was part of the fun – playing chicken with a javelin! Way to ruin it for everyone.

Helmets and elbow pads are for losers. Learning to ride a bike, roller skate (and later on a skateboard) takes balance. If you don’t get hurt falling off, the learning process takes so much longer. Plus the scars are really cool. Who didn’t ride on the handlebars or on the seat holding on to the driver’s butt (which was in your face and hoping he was a real friend and wasn’t going to blast you with a fart) as balance?  There was nowhere to put your feet so your legs dangled and your friend had a bike and you had to walk like a dork so ride-sharing was the norm. Plus there is plenty of room for two on a one-seater, you just have to be creative.

Toss in the Big Wheel (and for you Evil Kineval types the wooden jump plank leaning on a concrete block) and now we are talking some adrenalin. Your friend Sully did it yesterday and you will be damned if he is going to show off that scab alone. Determination supersedes wisdom when you are young.

The adventurous play ground. The days of climbing up inside the ‘metal rocket’ with all its sharp edges, uncovered steel screw tops and nails exposed made for tetanus shots only a doctor’s office can dream of. Don’t forget the 200 degree metal slide against the back of your legs; it’s a beautiful day and that slide has been just soaking in the sunshine for several hours – go metal burn yes! But it didn’t stop you, you shook it off and kept going back up anyway because it was fun.

The special hideaway. Either you had one or your best friend did. It was in a tree house, sitting on a tree limb 20 feet high, under the porch, in a leanto, just some secret place for you to escape the tyranny of your parents or the unbridled beatings of your older siblings. Hiding away for hours was the norm; the police were not called if you were an hour late for supper, you just got grounded. And not the ‘fun’ grounded these kids have these days… TV, xbox, cell phone, all in the room to keep you entertained? Unheard of…you had the old school, sit in your room and stare out of the window at all your friends having fun playing tag or hide and seek while you were missing it. Lesson learned.

There are of course many more… the drinking from a hose and not bottled water, your baseball team losing and not getting the pizza party because “you tried really hard”, the walking to school (in the blizzard uphill both ways) because there weren’t school buses and your family only had one car that dad took to work….

It goes on and on and it was fun. It was a great generation and we learned so much. Please share any ‘good times’ that I may have overlooked.

Artsy-fartsy I am not

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I have never been able to comfortably embrace my artistic side; plain and simply I have none.

My mother was a brilliant artist in the true sense of the word. She could dance, sing (although she more often than not forgot the words which was always the joke between the family), played the piano (self taught), and kicked butt playing tennis against any single or doubles team that dare take her on… but her piece de résistance would easily be her painting. Pastels, charcoal, and rice paper, nothing caused a bump in her ability to capture the moment. Some day I will post her painting to share with the world and have her legacy live on forever but right now this is about me….

I am the last in the line of boys, and being the only other female in the family, her immense talent is a lot to aspire to. There should be some mom-daughter connection no?

Early on I learned I did not have the talent, nor did I have the patience. I have all of my father’s analytical genes (and also am my own worst critic). The highly organized (put it back where you found it and how you found it so you can find it again next time), the strict control of time (we don’t have time to stop we have a schedule to keep) and the deductive reasoning (if its not the air filter, the sparks or the timing, it is probably a gunky gas filter)… all very useful and practical in the world so I am not knocking it.

So why is it I still strive to be artsy-fartsy like my mom? I have taken to using a Groupon for ‘fun’ artistic afternoons with my daughter and do something different (none of this bowling or mini golf crap). The use of quotation in the word -fun- is there because I typically stress out more trying to complete the task rather than enjoy it’s process. Don’t get me wrong, it does not take away from the time spent with my daughter. We still laugh and crack jokes even if we are the only ones laughing, but the pressure to make it perfect, to get what I see in my head out through my hands, is close to impossible and extremely-extremely frustrating (did I mention it is extreme?!)

So the birch trees you see are another attempt at my striving to bond with my mother.  After all, don’t we secretly wish that our children will take something special from us and pass it along to future generations? Maybe that is it; I disappointed her in that sense and am still striving to keep a piece of her alive while failing miserably. (Hmm Fraud where are you now?)

I am sure it will not be the last time but sooner or later I will get the hint; I am just not artsy-fartsy.

Embrace the rain

Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.

Today’s prompt question seems to have such a negative connotation to it so I had to tweak a bit:

Life is too short NOT to….. enjoy it, embrace it, think of at least one thing every morning that makes you smile, to travel and meet as many people as you can and listen to all of their amazing stories, to simply say yes…because who knows where it will lead you, who you will meet, what incredible adventures and memories it will leave to you.

I am far from being that ‘turn that frown upside down’ person but I also recognize that being negative doesn’t get you anywhere and is completely unproductive. It wastes so much energy and you haven’t gotten anywhere; you are still in the same exact spot…only miserable.

Is it easy to see the silver lining on the dark cloud? Not at all, but if you can…be patient and try really hard… the silver lining seems to sparkle a little shinier and the rain seems to taste a little sweeter as you stand in it…let it wash over you and cleanse you, rather than run from it while looking for a dry place to stand.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/no-time-to-waste/