You Know You're a Fitness Junkie When...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

...You spend over $100 on Amazon in one fell swoop. All on workout DVDs and Yoga decks. No sweat though (well, for the cost anyway). This was my attempt to spend my hard-earned Christmas money (I've been a pretty good girl this year) and capitalize on some wellness moola at work. Score!

On the menu are Ellen Barrett's Barefoot Cardio, some good ole Quick Fix and 10 Minute Solution DVDs, a Bollywood dance workout, Shape Magazine's bikini body workout, a ballet-inspired Reach workout, some Iron Yoga, a small bit of capoeira, and some Shiva Rae. Ooooh. Aaaaaah. Endorphins, my drug of choice.

And as you can tell, I despise workout monotony. I have to refresh every once in awhile or my motivation wanes. I love trying all different types of movements, as you can tell. And if I can multitask while working out, all the better (i.e. learning new dance moves, practicing meditation while I move, getting strength and cardio done in one shot).

Now, I eagerly wait by the mailbox...

Resolutions Smesolutions

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I may have mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions. I think that it's important to recognize that you are fully capable of making a resolution right this second, this very day of the year, this singular moment before the next bite reaches your mouth. I think that the "I'll start on Monday" mentality is, please forgive me, lazy. It's a giant excuse not to take control of your own habits, bodies, responsibilities and health that you have full authority over. I like to keep in the practice of making resolutions the second I think of them. I don't wait until Monday, I begin with my next meal or transaction.

However, I do appreciate the freshness that the New Year offers. The feeling of vitality all around you, the fresh outlook, that sense of starting over. Plus every business everywhere capitalizes on the New Year, so you might as well take advantage of those gym fee waivers and exercise equipment sales if you're going that route.

I would like to offer a few tips from my own experience at forming New Year's resolutions every year since I've understood the concept. Hey, just because I don't agree with waiting until the New Year to tackle your ambitions doesn't mean that I don't like to use the date as a great time to re-evaluate where I'm going. So, my advice is to try to:

1. Practice your New Year's resolutions a week or more in advance. This gives you a chance to work out the kinks, rework your schedule, and adjust the picture before you even start. If you plunge ahead on Jan 1 without any practice, it's all too easy to fall for the all-or-nothing cop-out. My resolution for 2011 is to read through the Bible and I started in November so that I have plenty of "padding" for those days I know I'll miss. Given enough time, I was able to find this Bible podcast and these complementary sermons that I can listen to while I'm working. Through this early trial, I also figured out that reading two Bible companions in tandem with the Bible readings is overkill and I know I cannot dedicate myself to that much cross-referencing and reading right now.

2. Jot down every obstacle you can foresee on one side of a piece of paper. On the other side, brainstorm solutions for overcoming those obstacles. Without a Plan B, failure will be that much easier. On the other hand, if you know exactly what your action plan will be, you won't hesitate to keep going. There WILL be obstacles.

3. Write about your efforts, vocalize your goals, and gather your cheerleaders. If you keep your resolutions inside your head, you have only yourself to hold you accountable. When you put your plan in print, you are solidifying it and making it real. You are reminded of your efforts with every glance where memory may have failed you. Start a blog centered around your resolutions like her, write a few goals on a Post-it® attached to your computer screen, or enlist a friend to check in on you. The more you talk about it, the more concrete the idea will be in your mind.

4. Visualize yourself successfully completely your goals with every inch of your being. Taste the sweat, hear the crowd cheering and those compliments, touch the rope at the finish line, see yourself in your new fitted clothes and experience the entire thing down to the sensory details. If in your mind you've already succeeded, then you know for sure that success is not impossible. And once you immerse yourself in that feeling of accomplishment, nothing will stop you from getting there. It feels too good.

5. Do some research. It's a whole lot easier to jump into something on Jan 1 when you know what will be expected of you. Print off that 5k training plan, read others' success stories, track your spending for a month or two before implementing a budget, and become familiar with the terms and equipment at the gym so you can nail your resolutions head-on, without hesitation. Know exactly what you're getting yourself into--or out of!

6. But don't over-plan! You are not likely to be successful at losing weight if you immediately plan to track every morsel down to the almond, subscribe to three magazines, join every online weight loss community you come across, buy piles of complicated equipment, join a gym and forgo entire food groups unless you have some sort of rare iron-clad dedication. You're setting yourself up for failure if you plan to form a million new habits at once. The most successful dieters use baby steps to achieve their goals. Implement one new measurable strategy per week such as drinking two extra glasses of water, walking 2,000 extra steps, putting away 25 extra dollars, sending out three extra resumes, or using a smaller dinner plate. Continue with what works, chuck what doesn't. I can practically guarantee that by December, or maybe even July, you will reap the rewards of all those baby steps put together.

7. Don't let your imperfections or shortcomings derail your entire plan. Who says you can't change or rewrite your goals in February to better suit your lifestyle? Certainly not me!

The Writing Structure and its Builders

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Great writers know that reading is one of the most important things that they can do to improve their craft. And here's another reason why. It's not always the content itself that inspires writing, but the form the writing takes. I remember reading a book in high school and the teacher asked us to write about one thing we learned from the book. I wrote about how the book opened me up to a completely different style of writing.

The book in question was written completely in vignettes. It didn't read like a regular book with a build-up, climax, and falling action. The vignettes were sort of scattered, but still contributed to the overall story. I remember thinking: "this is truly brilliant." I can do that! That's how my mind works anyhow, in bits and scattered chunks.

In college, we read poems and then copied their forms or subjects in our own way. Recently, I read a book that I've mentioned before called Wear More Cashmere. The style of that book and its celebration of womanhood has spawned some amazing writing ideas inside of me, but that I would like to express in my own way.

I can't wait to get started!

Sugar Sugar Everywhere

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm so excited for Christmas. My home has been decked out for weeks, the sugar cookies have come and gone, about half of the gifts have been wrapped and placed under the tree. Every evening I come home and turn on a Christmas CD while I try to figure out what's for dinner. I love showing people how much thought I've put into celebrating them as a person by choosing gifts with meaning. I've taken my son to see many-a-Santa (but he's two, so he hasn't quite caught on that he looks different each time). The snow is falling in pure white blankets. The goodwill is so thick in the air you can almost taste it. But instead of taste it, you stop to check the calories...

I'm here to petition that we do not take the cheer out of the holiday treats. Everywhere around me, I keep hearing people grumbling and then taking fistfuls of treats almost reluctantly. At my lunch break exercise class, there was moaning during the walking lunges about how we'd better treat ourselves to extra pecan pie for this. There's something just so wrong with this picture. We shouldn't be lamenting these bountiful gifts from friends, family, business vendors, etc.

Please, by all means, have fun with the outpouring of Christmas suga'. Grab a few chocolate-covered pretzels and really enjoy each roll across the tongue. This is a rare once-a-year treat. Take an extra lap around the building before grabbing a cookie if you must, but please grab a cookie! Maybe not ten, but at least one or two. The more you fight it, the worse off you're going to be anyway. This is a time to celebrate, to enjoy, to indulge. What's to celebrate if you're too busy worrying about that monster chocolate cake you just bit into?

Singing Lessons

Monday, November 29, 2010

I have an endearing story about my dad singing to my sisters and me when we were babies. He would just repeat Silent Night over and over because that was the only song he knew all the words to. He wasn't that much of a hands-on dad when it came to discipline (unless we were bothering him specifically) or day-to-day affairs, but he sure loved his girls. Especially when we were all cuddled into his arms about to fall asleep. Awwwwwww. I don't quite remember this but I certainly appreciate the stories and the devotion.

I, of course, sing to my son the requisite "Hush Little Baby" and "Twinkle Twinkle" but am in the market for a new tune. I was just listening to an updated version of Amazing Grace and hadn't even thought of that one! Swing Low Sweet Chariot. I Don't Want to Miss a Thing. Sweet Child of Mine. Landslide. I am totally missing some good tunes! I need to get listening and bolster my playlist.

It's All on the Menu

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The best smart-eating tip I can offer: you gotta plan out the menu people!

And these are my best strategies for menu planning:

1. Make a list of all the common meals you make for yourself or your family. You can do this with snacks and drinks too. I want to add my very own list to this blog very soon so I have my own record. Because sometimes when it's time to go to the grocery store, you just plumb can't think of anything to make. Continue adding to this list as you add new recipes to your repertoire.

2. Do a search at Cooking Light or SparkRecipes for more healthful versions of your favorites or try to do a few heart-healthy swaps (light sour cream versus the full-fat version). I bought a Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet cookbook that improves upon a good share of our family favorites in one book. Printing real recipes with actual nutrition labels also helps keep you honest about each serving.

3. Now go back through that meal list and place notes next to each meal listing the ingredients you'll need for each recipe.

4. Each week, plot out every breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. This is not as hard as it sounds. It's perfectly OK to have nutritious waffles with blueberries all week so you need only buy those two things. For snacks, all you need is a carton of eggs for a hard-boiled snack or a bag of apples and bottle of peanut butter. Add the ingredients for these meals to your weekly shopping list.

5. I always find it helpful to jot down the meals and snacks I've planned on a white board or scrap of paper so I don't forget by Thursday what I actually had in mind. I scratch the meals off as I go.

This one simple meal-planning strategy sounds way too easy, but it really works. And as a bonus, it keeps our grocery bills much lower than ever!

The Party's at My House

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I think I was reading someone else's blog entry about having a wine and cheese party that got me thinking about having a girls' night sometime soon myself. Something to replenish those bonds and give us girls something to talk about. Ok, I was just looking for any excuse to get all the girlies I adore the most together. And banish awkward silences.

Then, something about indie film screening came into my inbox not two seconds later like surrendipity.

A few days later, this fantastic party favor idea (including wine party favor options) graced my inbox.

And there you have it: fate has arranged a fully-planned party for me. How does New Year's Eve sound?

The Great Remote Search

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm not the lazy type that searches the entire house for the remote just to change the TV channels from the couch. Oh no. But for the past two days I've been in a real bind. I've wanted to work out to several different fitness DVDs, but I can't find the DVD remote. The actual box itself can only do so much. What about when I want to get to the third workout on that Turbo Jam DVD? I. just. can't. get to it! Ugh.

However, this did force me to pull out my old bundle of ripped-out magazine workouts and put them to darn good use. You should see the stack I have. You know those file envelopes with like 8 file dividers? I have two of those jam-packed about 2-inches thick with every type of workout you can think of from capoeira to back-to-the-80s leg warmer workouts to tae bo, you name it! And I always have good intentions of using them (otherwise I wouldn't horde them so), but somehow I just don't.

It's much easier for me to throw in a DVD and capitalize on the Chalene-style energy. Almost like I'm working out with someone else or in a class setting. I take less breaks and pump a whole lot harder. Those DVDs keep me a whole lot more accountable than a piece of paper I have to stop and read. But I did use the paper this time. And I liked it. Especially with my own music cranked up and the boys out of the house.

Post-Workout Shower

I have an odd conundrum that has to do with the post-workout shower. Ok, I admit I have gone places after a sweaty workout. I try to keep this social snafu to a minimum, but I assure you I never go to bed without a full lather-off. So, what do you do the next morning when your hair is all crazy kinked but you're still shower fresh? I know a lot of people who will take another shower in the morning. I have done that too, especially in the sticky summer heat, but it seems like such a waste--of water and extra time. They do tell you to even skip a day of showering for the benefit of your hair and skin moisture levels, which I just won't do. But double showering must do a real number on oil production.

So, if I take a shower in the morning and another shower post-workout that same day and don't take one the following morning, I still come out with my socially-acceptable one shower a day. Whew, at least I can keep my social standing. But I still don't know what to do about that hideous bed-head. It's not the cute Jennifer Aniston-esque-beach-wave-bed-head. It's the three-year-old-girl-after-a-day-of-craziness type.

Anyhow, so far, the only remedies I've come up with are clips to pin my hair back. It also helps if I wear a hat on my walk to work to flatten some of the bumps. Otherwise, cute pixie pigtails or a headband seem to do the trick. My hair's too short right now to resort to the oft-used ponytail. I may have to grow it out just for that reason. But then I'm afraid I'll get lazy and use the ponytail solution every day again like I've done before.

The Sketchbook Project

Monday, November 1, 2010

I am so excited to have found The Sketchbook Project during a recent bout of Internet "research." Ok ok, you caught me. I was in the market to buy a real artist's sketchbook and came across this cool new project to engulf myself in. You see, you get a sketchbook, fill it up with artwork and send it back in. Then, your art goes on a tour of the country. When the art tour is finished, the sketchbooks find a permanent home in the Brooklyn Art Library. They can be checked out like regular library books and the artist can keep track of how many times their book is viewed or "checked out."

I chose "make mine a double" as my theme. Although today I see that "Happy Thoughts" has been added as a theme, and that would've been downright perfect. Oh well. I've already done a brainstorm of doubles and hope to turn those ideas into wonderful works of art.

As I've stated before, I have this abundance of creative energy building up inside of me and am in dire need of an expressive outlet for it. So thank the stars, it's in the mail.


The Stuffed Upper Crust

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I've noticed more and more that people are being drawn to health foods when it comes to sharing snacks or meals with others. We're all getting a little scared of going to parties where there is way too much to eat. They write about it in magazines all the time--how to not sabotage your diet in one fell swoop of the buffet table.

Snacks at work in a health-conscious department and even work-provided lunches are taking on a health spin. Make a calorie-light cupcake and watch them disappear. Bring in a calorie-dense cake and frown as you take most of it back home again. At church, at birthday celebrations, more and more people are leaning toward healthful fare. And everyone mumbles about donuts--so enticing no one can resist yet oh-so-naughty for the waist. And I almost feel guilty serving that sort of thing myself. As if I'm a devil's advocate of sorts. Here, engorge yourself, until you're uncomfortably stuffed and guilt-ridden. How hospitable is that?

We recently invited some friends over for dinner. Something people generally jump at the chance to enjoy, right? Well, they weren't sure if they could make it because they're trying to lose weight. Well, it's a good thing I have a few healthy recipes under my belt and am sort of a health buff myself. Sort of. So, I can make them feel at home in my home and in their own skin. I know, it's a gift.

As a side, would it be weird to host Thanksgiving this year and make it a health food affair with pre-portioned plates? I'm also fantasizing about that energized feeling after finishing a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, starting my day off on the right (and left) foot. But what's with the parting gift--a fresh pumpkin pie? Shouldn't we slim that down to a sugar-free, low-fat pie of some kind? We all know we'll ruin our efforts later in the day, but why help us take an unhealthful turn right away?

Wabi What-y?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turns out my love of imperfect things dates back to ancient Japanese tradition. Who knew? You see, I had this doll when I was in third grade. I remember how all of our backpacks were lined up on pegs outside the third grade classroom. With the scarcity of homework back in those wee days, my backpack often held other schoolgirl treasures. For awhile, I carried this plastic doll with me everywhere. I was so worried that one of my arch nemeses would weasel their peanut-butter fingers into my bag and out me and my closet doll fetish.

You see, I found this plastic doll in the little attic offshoot of my bedroom. She was a bit bedraggled. Her hair not as luscious as Barbie's. Her moving eyes were a little creepy and she sort of had that musty antique doll style to her. But those little worn patches on her skin and the permanent dirt on her knees endeared me to her even more. She and I together made a complete package of misfits. A little off-kilter, a little sloppy, a little defective in manner, if only to the naked eye. She belonged with me.

Turns out there's this ancient philosophy called Wabi Sabi that celebrates the imperfections, the worn-out places, the dirt in the cracks. This Whole Living article turned me on to the whole idea and it completely clicked with me. It makes sense that I was repelled by perfection. Nothing bothered me more in school than copy-cats who strove to be closer to the cool girl's idea of perfect. The pretentious, the trite, the mainstream--all of these things bothered me to no end. And for good reason. Perfection is delusional and denotes a lack of character. Striving for perfection is a fruitless endeavor, while celebrating flaws encourages us to take pure delight in our own and others' idiosyncrasies.

Now I have an excuse to not get rid of my little teapot with the crack through the lid. Oh happy day! XOXOXO Baby Doll.

Sentimentality is Never Stationary

Monday, October 18, 2010

I bought me some stationery yesterday with that bonus check I was talking about.

I just love the sentimental glamor of having a stash of expressive stationery on-hand on which to pen personalized "correspondence" like someone out of a Jane Austen novel. I'm a sucker for handwritten notes that actually come in the mail. A tactile demonstration that someone was thinking enough about you to break out the pen, ink, and stamp. Something that can be returned to with reminiscent pleasure.

Now, I'm trying to think of who the first lucky recipient will be. I know of a few folks who would raise their eyebrows at the old pen-and-ink way to communicate. I know of a few more to whom I talk quite frequently online and to whom it makes no sense to drop a letter in the mail.

But at least I have the pretty, graphic, delicate stationery to start with.

Past Tense

Friday, October 15, 2010

I went through a phase in my life where I couldn't quite understand how the world could be a whole different place when my parents were young. I wanted badly to travel back in time and watch how they interacted with their high school friends and hear their groovy child voices. I'd watch Brady Bunch reruns and wonder if my mom wore her hair like Marsha or Jan or if her feet walked on mustard-colored shag carpeting. I envisioned my dad living in a wood-paneled Main Street apartment, listening to Journey, surrounded by latch-hook wall decor and macrame pot holders, and getting around by hitchhiking.

Nowadays, I'm so far behind on technology, I might as well be frolicking with the Partridge family. As a copywriter, I sometimes have to write product descriptions for technological gadgets that leave me feeling a little uneasy. Have I used some ancient terminology? Do I even know what all those abbreviations stand for? My husband and I just bought the original Mario and Pacman games, do I look like I know anything about Bluetooth technology?

But I'm learning. I find updating my personal hard drive an asset to society. There are so many advantages to being instantly connected and accomplishing tasks much more quickly. Sometimes, when I sneak peeks of other peoples' flat screens in their open lit windows, I think we should get one as much as my deep-seated nostalgic sentiments want to balk in opposition. I don't want to grow up to be old and afraid. I want to be energized by advances, not intimidated by them.

I, however, solemnly swear that I will never relinquish my love for Three's Company, paisley patterns, shirt dresses and gaudy hair flowers.

On another subject, here is a list of some of my favorite things today:

Licking the yogurt off the cover.
The Contemporary Folk station on Pandora.
Bonus checks that allow you to spend on girly pleasures like shoes and face cream where the family budget doesn't comply.
Reading A Streetcar Named Desire in the sun on my lunch break.

Cuz I Eats Me Spinach

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is it rough for you to squeeze enough roughage into your diet? I've compiled a list some of the helpful tips that I've accumulated from various magazines, news outlets and other sources. These pointers make obtaining your five-a-day quota of fruits and vegetables as simple as possible:

1. Start at the Beginning: Begin each meal with a fruit or vegetable. When you fill up on salad or fruit cocktail, you'll be less likely to eat as much of the heavier fare that follows.

2. Snack Attack: If you need a snack, start with a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables. If you need more, move on to something else. But always start here. Training yourself to grab ripe produce when the hunger pangs strike is a much better habit to form than reaching for any chip bag that's within reach.

3. Supper Solution: Consider vegetables to be the main course of dinner with a side of meat. In fact, conventional wisdom dictates that your plate should be divided into 1 part whole grain, 1 part low-fat meat/protein and 2 parts vegetables.

4. Seeing Clearly: Research shows that storing food in see-through containers in the fridge will make you more likely to eat it. Chop up some of your favorites into bite-size pieces on Sunday and graze on them throughout the week. Place less healthful options in opaque containers.

5. Jump in Fruit First: Store those fresh picks in the front of the fridge, freezer or pantry and bury junk food in the back to make yourself more likely to nosh on better nourishment.

6. Color Wheel: Challenge yourself to put a new fruit or vegetable on your shopping list. Incorporating a larger variety of colors and tastes into your diet gives you a more well-rounded dose of vitamins and antioxidants.

7. An Apple a Day: A study I recently read about from Penn State said that people ate about 200 calories less at lunch when they ate an apple 15 minutes prior than when they didn't snack on anything.

8. Drink to Your Health: Some low-sodium veggie drinks provide you with an extra serving of vegetables without even trying! Protect your ticker. Duh, you could have a V8!

9. When making frozen dinners, whether personal-sized or family-sized, bulk them up with extra servings of complementary frozen vegetables. Simple and cheap! You can do this with canned soups, homemade soups or other dinners as well. Train your mind to pick out places where vegetables can be snuck in. Ever tried cauliflower in your mashed potatoes or applesauce in your muffins? Shhhhhh. They'll never know!

Backyard Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I watched a small blip on the news (the news isn't TV, right?) about a movement for the reform of school lunches, spurred by Michelle Obama. Flashback to 1990-something and memories of cheese globs, Cheetos, and fake pizza runs through my mind. Lunch came with a main dish, two sides, chips, a drink and dessert. I mean, seriously? The chips and dessert alone were enough to quiver at, let alone the "side" choices (i.e. fries, Ranch-drenched get the idea). Do you really think I chose the heated canned peas? Um....I'll pass. I literally still cringe when I think about how I ate a bag of Cheetos! This foundation of childhood obesity not only carries a red flag, it features flashing red lights, glows in the dark and bellows at decibels that can be heard across the country.

Jump ahead a few years to an angst-ridden college student with weight problems faced with all-you-can-eat buffet-style cafeteria food. I can't even go there because the memories are too painful. Obviously, Houston, we have a mightily enlarged problem.

Needless to say, I whole-heartedly back this healthy school lunch movement. In fact, my mind also rolls back to the greenhouse in my high school and the surrounding school grounds--aka, fertile grounds for vegetable planting accompanied by horticulture, botany, and biology lessons. A huge money-saving win-win! I mean there's something so meaningful about a student growing tomatoes with their own hands and seeing them being served in their very own cafeteria, tasting them with each bite of said salad and developing healthy habits that will hopefully stick with them for a lifetime. Perhaps healthcare costs would be reduced by a much-healthier upcoming generation. Why haven't we thought of this/done something sooner?

Carrying it All

Friday, September 3, 2010

So, I started ink sketching again. Something I haven't done since...oh, my college days. I'm not really sure why I ever abandoned it, but some new sources of inspiration have rekindled my desire to put pen to paper. I can even be productive in front of the tube. Wait, did I just say that? I'm not watching TV anymore remember? Anyway... I've been going in several other directions lately too, such as a paper bag tag project, the novel-in-progress, word bits and pieces that will one day form a poem, collage art, and so much more.

So, what's an artist to do? Sometimes on my work lunch breaks I feel like sketching and sometimes I want to write. Reading by the water is another favorite past time. Magazines tell me to keep a gratitude journal, an exercise log, a food tracker and a memory keeper. Writers like to keep journals to stay in the practice of writing and artists carry around sketchbooks whenever the mood strikes. Gurus and life coaches preach the powers of visualization and vision boards. What should an artist/writer/grateful human/dreamer/runner/healthy eater do? Carry around a backpack full of journals that weigh them down instead of lift them off? I think this is why artists always appear fragmented, disheveled and disorganized. It must be!

I can feel the invention wheels rolling in my head again. Something to reel in the restlessness yet fulfill all those roles.

I Love you Again and Again

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We should be able to marry again and again and again.

There is so much anticipation, so many loved ones in one place, so much love radiating from the pews, so much fun to be had dancing with little tykes and all the uncles, and so much thought into every thread that graces the stage on that ceremonious day (and so little of it afterwards) that it should never have to stop. And the look in each other's eyes and those magical words "I do" could never lose their magic.

Besides, it can be so hard to narrow down a theme that it would be fun to be able to pick a different one every five years or experience an elopement, try a non-traditional dress, make room in the wedding party for new friends in your life, or give out party favors that convey something from each set of years you've spent together.

Oh, I could definitely live without the familial friction and the staggering bills, but I would desperately love to relive that enchantment that lasts only hours for one short miraculous day.

We evolve in our love for one another. And we could use a way to truly express that love beyond such trivial means available to the already-married. A way to renew that bond and celebrate something of such significance. To feel that raw love anew.

Swearing off the Boob Tube

Monday, August 16, 2010

I wrote a letter to a chronically late friend some time ago explaining how this momma needs to take stock of what she's spending her time on and extinguish all the pesky places where time seems to be meaninglessly burned. In this case, it was waiting around for hours for her. Another huge time-sapping activity for me is watching television.

So, I watched a movie this weekend and sort of felt robbed afterwards. I couldn't believe I spent those golden hours while my child napped engrossed in something so stupid, meaningless, unauthentic, and ridiculous. So I feel that I need to consciously rearrange the agenda a bit and zap television from my day-to-day playlist.

Not only does television provide constant reminders of what we don't have it also diminishes bodily health. There is a direct relationship between time spent watching TV and the weight of the person watching. The more hours you watch, the fatter you get. It's blunt, but it's the gosh-darn truth.

In an effort to be more productive, energetic, and healthy; to be a positive role model for my son; and to pursue my passions much more rigorously than I have been, I am taking a sabbatical from the boob tube. I'd much rather:

*Make music like the two delightful young girls we saw at the coffee shop open mic, playing cellos and singing sweetly to their own worthy lyrics.

*Shop for beautiful antiques saturated with stories like quilts and old-time storybooks and dainty hors d'oeuvre forks.

*Cook exquisite Gordon Ramsay-worthy food beside my husband

*Make acoustical noise around the fire

*Fill sketchbooks with musings and colored pencil drawings

*Cut pretty pictures from magazines to collage into vision boards

*Make musical instruments from stuff we have just laying around the house and jam away with my talented two-year-old

*Perusing the farmer's market with friends who actually cherish their time with me

*Hone my flexibility and feelings of inner peace with yoga

*Honoring my legs and lungs with a sprint around the neighborhood

Creating Peace at Home

Friday, August 13, 2010

images courtesy of

Ask me what's wrong with the medical system I've been dealing with lately, and I can list off dozens of things and their myriad of negative effects. Ask me what's going right in my home, and I'll be stumped to give any examples. This is when you know something is off-kilter.

In an effort to find my way back to Optimistic, a friend I've been avoiding like leprosy, I've decided to force myself to feel grateful, hoping that that old adage that if I act happy I'll be happy really works. And I have lots of hope that it does.

1. Singing someone to sleep
2. Foundational faith
3. Fresh scents
4. Inspiring colors
5. New green growth
6. Gratitude from someone else
7. Connections with depth
8. Giving old things new life
9. Skipping unabashedly
10. Sticky lollipop fingers: these can either be seen as a complete nuisance or a sign of completely immersing oneself in a sweet experience. I choose the latter.
11. A scrubbed-clean home
12. Colorful glass in the windows
13. A checked-off to-do list
14. Advice and encouragement from someone who knows, really knows
15. Central air, electricity, a steady job and creature comforts
16. A brand-new SUV that looks so "me"
17. An abundance of ideas and creative spirit
18. Discovering a new magazine: Living Crafts Magazine. Now, I'm not the bead, scrapbook, fake wreath type of crafter. I was looking for something modern, nature-inspired, inspiring in itself, and do-able and this is it!
19. Two little boys, one with amazing blue eyes and the other with shiny copper penny hair, splashing away in a kiddie pool
20. Discovering a new radio station that never bores: The Avenue.

Oh, and the Perseids. I almost forgot. I need to get out there tonight and see if I can see any last stragglers because I forgot to last night.

What Have You Got to Lose?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Picture courtesy of Sunipix

A lot!

I was thinking about what might make someone motivated to lose weight when they're sort of apathetic about their in, their potentially-failing health, neutral body image, pleas from children, etc have not been enough of a push to get them to lose weight. These were some of my ideas:

1. Reproduction: Research shows that obesity is related to a host of reproductive problems. Planning to have a family--and a healthy one at that--can be a huge force toward leading a healthier lifestyle. I've also read that obese women are at higher risk for early and recurrent early miscarriages. It is highly advised that women get their weight under control to prevent this truly heartbreaking experience.

2. Insurance rates: I have seen instances where health insurance rates doubled as a result of health assessment reports. Talk about reason to lose weight!

3. Monetary incentives: Money, in general, is a good incentive for a lot of people to do anything. I see a lot of games popping up in area gyms and workplaces offering the “biggest loser” a pool of money or other great incentives. Perhaps stats on what they’d save money on if they’d lose weight such as grocery bills, clothing, airline seats (in some cases), gas, the obvious doctor bills and much more would assist in motivating.

4. Altruistic motives: How about encouragement to commit to running a race in honor of a friend with cancer or perhaps “dedicating” a few pounds to premature babies in the NICU (in the form of pledges per pound).

5: Success Stories: Motivational stories have always inspired me personally. When I see someone in my daily life begin to lose weight, I want to know everything about how they did it. It’s almost a stroke of jealousy that stirs up the desire in me. If someone larger than me (and whom I know personally or see in real life) can do it and look great, I want to!

6: I am also highly motivated to "show 'em" when people make rude comments or tease me about my weight or even another aspect of my life. When I came back to visit from my first semester in college, someone made a comment about my more-than-freshman-15 weight gain. That was a wake-up call. Someone else told me to revel in the weight I was at for my wedding because that was the lowest I'd ever be. Well, well, well. Today, after having a baby even, I weigh 15lbs less than I did the day I said my vows. I don't appreciate being labeled, judged or pressed into a self-fulfilling prophesy of someone else's. So there!

Getting a Little Technical

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I received a fun new gadget as of late. Makes me so happy. How could a Heart Rate Monitor make someone so happy? I'm not sure. Anyhow, I don't need to stop running and risk dizziness for 15 seconds to check my pulse. This thing does it for me. And tracks calories and distance too. This is so perfect for running. I've often wondered if I'm running fast enough to get any benefits or even if I'm going too fast. Now I'll know!

So, I found this fabulous website for determining what heart rate zones I should be in for certain benefits and for how long. I already know the whole 220 minus age calculation that gets me to my maximum heart rate. But what are you supposed to do with the numbers from there? This site takes a closer look. There's nothing like feeling like you've actually done something good for your body after a run!

Perhaps this can move me past the plateau I've been in for the last, oh, two years. Oh wait, what's that you say? Yes, I'm walking over to the bakery to get a cupcake at lunch. So? I am walking...

The New Charity "Race"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I just had a great idea for an invention I thought I'd share. Not so much a physical invention as an inventive idea. There are so many charity runs and only so many ways to switch those up (run a 5k night, taste beer along the way, etc). Why not do some sort of contest where you dedicate the pounds you intend to lose to a charity or worthy cause? You make some sort of pledge or solicit pledges for each pound lost. It would totally make sense to "donate your pounds" to premature babies in the ICU. This would be a great addition to a company wellness program or a gym promotion. Just a thought...

Quest for Ideas

Friday, July 23, 2010

So, I'm stuck in a bit of a rut. I have motivation, inspiration, stars-in-my-eyes overload with no outlet for it. For the life of me, no poem ideas, children's storybook ideas, or art project ideas are sparking interest within me. It's either I have the ideas or the inspiration, rarely both.

So, I'm just going to sit down and brainstorm. I've decided I'm going to force myself to harvest this crop of inspiration. Not the momma-said-so-I'm-not-going-to force myself, but a sit-in-front-of-computer-screen-until-something-comes-out force. Perhaps rummaging through some of my reading list and following links from there will lead me on a path of discovery. But therein lies some of the problem. I like to get caught up in other peoples' ideas and start the I-wish-I-would've-thought-of-that mind game that could make it worse.

Kids, this is the reason they tell you to be in constant practice of your chosen art form. The second you stop writing, drawing, knitting, drafting, etc is the moment you lose your mojo. Some of my best ideas were born when I was the busiest I've ever been in my life, so I can't use the I-have-no-time excuse. Here I go...weeeeeee!

Sweating it out at the Dinner Table

Friday, July 16, 2010

It was the first time I had ever heard it, and it wasn't even from my own child. "Yes, you're embarassing me." What? I embarass you? You who wears ripped, stained, cutoff clothes on occasion? And what about that shirt with a dog and a cloud coming from its backend that says "blame the dog?" Well, this certainly is a first.

I guess there really is a first time for everything. No one's ever really been embarassed by me before, at least that have come out and admitted it. I do on occasion accidentally wear toothpaste on my shirt. This time my husband was embarassed to go out to eat with me while I was still wearing my a-bit-sweaty workout clothes. I didn't stink and there were no visible wet spots. Geez, I guess I can be a bit of a fitness junky sometimes when my own post-workout body doesn't even bother me anymore.

I have always wondered what fitness instructors, especially celebrity ones like Jillian, do when they have to teach classes or personally train people all day. Do they shower just to take their lunch break? Probably not. And I've heard about regular people who work out on their lunch breaks. You can't tell me that they don't sweat. Just a little. And then return to work in the same clothes. I wholeheartedly agree that pit stains and skunk smells are totally gross. But I sort of revel in that post-workout glisten and glow.

And it's not like we were going anywhere fancy.

Rose Water

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Picture courtesy of Sunipix

My sweet husband bought me a highly-discounted handful of roses on purpose last week for our anniversary (seriously, what a doll!). He had heard me comment in passing that I wanted to take some rose petals from our rose bushes and put them in a bath just because. Once in full bloom two weeks ago, said rose bushes now produce nary a petal.

So, the dear bought me this nearly-withering bunch so I could put them directly into the bath after one day desktop. And oh the prettiness of crimson petals in the bath and that satiny feel against the skin. And I'm left wondering, why not do a celebratory thing like this every day?

A run is a run is a run...or not!

Monday, July 12, 2010

I recently had a conversation with someone who was bothered by the time she achieved on a 5k run. It was her PW: personal worst. When you think about it though, there are so many factors that contribute to each and every run that the times may sometimes say little more than how you were doing on that particular day. Next time you come in last place on your own scale, think about all the factors that contribute to your run and try not to get discouraged when you fall behind your PR. After all, you are running, which is a huge accomplishment in itself, and you're probably running for a very worthy cause. A big pat on the back!

Some of the many factors that determine the speed of your run are:

1. Weather: anything from temperature to humidity levels to wind intensity all affect speed and stamina.

2. Shoes: if they're not properly fitted, older or even brand-new, the shoes you wear running impact your comfort level and ability to speed.

3. Posture: some days may be better than others. I know that if I don't mentally check in with my shoulders, abs, ankles and foot bottoms, I don't run as well.

4. Breathing: holding breath or taking too short of breaths can sometimes knock the stamina right out of you.

5. Outfit: is your sports bra too loose; are your polyester shorts trapping too much heat; are your socks rubbing; do your ipod ear buds keep falling out of your ears? Some attire nuisances are bothersome enough to slow you down.

6. What you've eaten: Whether you hit the taco bar the night before or skip breakfast on race day, what you do or don't put into your body can either fuel it or slow it down.

7. Exertion in the days preceding: There is a reason for tapering just as there's reason for building endurance. If you don't follow the guidelines, you'll feel it.

8. Terrain: Each race takes you from one city or route to the next, and none are the same. Obviously hills and rougher roads are going to chip a few minutes off your best time.

9. Sleep patterns: if you don't sleep well in the days before the race, you're probably going to run out of steam. Sleep is essential for healing and energy. Skip the shut-eye and you'll probably fall behind.

My message to you is: Kudos for taking up running and supporting local charities! And don't be so hard on yourself when your strides don't meet your version of personal perfection. There are so many elements that factor into your pace that it's best if you just take in the sights and sounds and enjoy yourself!

Revenge of the Fruit Flies

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You know you're a healthy eater matter what you do you can't seem to get rid of the fruit flies (of course, due to an over-abundance of healthy foods lying around).

I've cleaned the kitchen, become a dictator of pop can and milk jug-rinsing, and insisted on the "no dirty dishes left overnight" rule, but alas, I cannot seem to find the origination of that tiny pestering colony. Let's just chalk it up to the climate being hot and humid at the moment and the bananas being in high demand by a toddling almost-two-year-old. Ah well, at least this is a relatively good problem to have.

The best way to get rid of fruit flies is to get rid of their source of food. I've been heaving boxes of nonperishables left and right (admittedly with some guilt), wiping down the countertops and taking out the garbage religiously. We'll see how long it takes before I stop seeing anymore of those little boogers.

In the meantime, this is a great excuse to get my hubby in the habit of cleaning up after himself and not letting the dishes pile up, because honey, otherwise your morning cereal will start to have larvae mixed in. There are some bonuses to having fruit flies. They are a clear indication to him that we do indeed need to keep a cleaner house.

I have some crazed memories from when we were kids and mom woke us up at three in the morning because she noticed ants in the kitchen. We were forced to help her scour and scald the life out of the kitchen until it was clean enough for her to be able to sleep. To this day, I have nightmares about bug infestations in the confines of what is supposed to be a place of refuge, our home. As though, if we let one juice spill go untouched, our house will fall to the ground under the weight of nests and hives.

Of course, there has to be a medium between the obsessive-compulsive and completely lax, so I'm not going to freak out, but I'm not going to let the baby's high chair accumulate an abundance of crumbs either.

Turning Happiness Up a Notch

Friday, July 2, 2010

I mentioned something in a previous post about always doing something to nourish yourself, such as listening to music at work. I've been thinking a lot about this and I can see so many benefits from listening at work that I thought it would be beneficial to share so that everyone can benefit from it.

1. Music drowns out those "corporate sounds" of copying machines, bubblers cooling off, high heels on concrete, sales calls, incessant typing and other noises that sometimes stifle our sense of individuality.

2. Your taste in music and the emotions that the music evokes provide you with a sense of place in the world that extends far beyond the makeshift walls of your cubicle. It's so easy to surrender to the grind that we could sometimes use a shift.

3. I tend to find lyrics the perfect ignition for my creative wheels. Sometimes a line of music--or even my mis-hearing of a line--provides me with an idea that churns itself into a pearl.

4. This is your chance to learn about new and unheard-of artists. Pandora is my go-to place. You type in your favorite song or artist or someone you hear about in a magazine or blog posting and you get a personalized radio station with similar-sounding musicians to expand your playlist.

5. Music has the profound ability to change or complement any mood. I turn on the meditation stations when I'm getting stressed out or the modern folk station when I need an artistic boost.

Today I'm listening to classical music, trying to memorize the names of composers and broaden my cultural knowledge. Come on, tune in!

I'll Order My Table Old-Fashioned

Friday, June 25, 2010

It seems like a novelty, like a Norman Rockwell painting. Like something that can't be managed or isn't taken very seriously. But having dinner together at the kitchen table is more crucial than most people imagine.

First, the dinner table forges a sense of connection. When the entire family is sitting together in one place, instead of eating in separate rooms or vehicles, they get a chance to talk and review their days. There's no interference from the television or other outside distractions. The parents are also providing evidence to their kids that this family connection is more important than anything else (work, piling laundry, etc). The focus is completely on the family and everyone in it. Everyone has their place in the family.

Second, because there are no distractions, each person is also able to focus more on what they're eating so they don't stuff more in their mouths than when hypnotized by The Bachelor. Studies show you're more likely to overeat when you eat while distracted. You naturally take more time and become mindful of what you're eating at the table.

Third, studies show that children who regularly eat at the dinner table will be less likely to use drugs and alcohol, be less stressed, get better grades and eat better. Seriously, this one simple thing can have the most profound life-altering effect.

Fourth, everyone eats better. If you're at the dinner table, the dinner is more than likely made at home which more than likely means it's healthier than what you'd find at the drive-through or restaurant table. Servings usually aren't dished in heaving portions (well, maybe at Christmas) allowing everyone to stop eating when they're actually full, not when they've gotten their $10.99-worth. I did read somewhere that people who eat around the table are more likely to be healthy and in shape as well, perhaps as a result of healthy eating.

Fifth, the dinner table provides one of the most effectual places for parents to teach their children about manners. Whether teaching about table manners (don't talk with your mouth full, please help your brother clear the table) or social graces (shake Mr. Adams hand) in general, the dinner table can be the cornerstone of etiquette training.

Sixth, for a young child, the kitchen table is a wonderful starting place for teaching them how to sit still and providing them with other basic discipline (it's not polite to kick Johnny, don't leave the table until you're excused). This basic training will then carry over to church pews and restaurant tables where screaming, wiggly, milk-spewing children are not necessarily condoned.

Seventh, along those same lines, dinner at the table provides a crucial sense of routine for smaller children. Something they can rely on. Every parent knows that routine is the basis of cooperation with toddlers and provides a sense of stability with older children.

Eighth, the dinner table allows you the chance to demonstrate to your children what healthy eating habits look like. Vegetables aren't gross, we don't need to hide in a closet to eat, a pile of crackers is not a dinner, it's not shameful to eat a bite of cake once in awhile, and it's worth it to try new things.

Ninth, the preparation of the meal is a wonderful opportunity to offer your children a sense of responsibility. When they get to mix the cookie batter, stir the meat, or time the noodles, they're learning exactly what preparing a meal entails and how to succeed in life. They'll be much more self-sufficient as adults and hold their responsibilities in high regard when they learn how to prepare their own food at a young age.

One of the safest places in the world is at the dinner table. Let's eat!

Ten Ways to Ease Muscle Soreness!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I am no doctor or scientist, but I can tell you what works best for me for alleviating pain the day after a kick-a$$ workout leaves me tender to the touch. I will do one or any combination of the below items when I'm feeling the burn the next day. There is a fine line between soreness and injury though to beware of.

1. Stretch well after an intense workout. I did Jillian's No More Trouble Zones last night and found that the cool-down was kind of lacking. Hence, I am darn sore today and feel like tomorrow will be even worse. It's always important to stretch all the major muscle groups for at least 30 seconds each.

2. Massage. I had a massage therapist once who said she was removing the lactic acid from my muscles. The next day, I had that internal feeling like I should be sore, but felt no pain. That was amazing to me!

3. Keep Moving. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, it's important to be active in the days following a tough workout. Even when I've worked my butt so hard it hurts to sit, I find it's best to get up and around the next day up to every half-hour or so. A low-intensity walk or even a gentle yoga workout seems to have a repairing effect. Muscles need a chance to heal to be sure, but they also do best with extra circulation and stretching.

4. Keep stretching. I'm always sure to continue stretching the day after, especially since I'm desk-bound most days. My favorite thing to do is stretch while also rubbing the tender areas--a little massage/stretch treat.

5. Drink lots of water. Dehydration only makes the soreness feel worse to me. I've also heard--and don't know if it's true--that water helps move the lactic acid through the body and lubricate joints. With all the benefits of water, it can't hurt to try.

6. Hot or cold pack: Heat increases blood flow to the area while cold reduces inflammation. Both feel nice.

7. OTC relief. WebMD talks about using anti-inflammatory medication. While I abhor popping a pill if I don't have to, with some of the workouts I've done, I probably could have used a little medicated relief.

8. Epsom salt bath: word on this street is that Epsom salts decrease inflammation and draw out toxins, making a wonderful addition to the bathwater. The warm bathwater itself increases circulation, bringing much-needed oxygen to tissues in the process of healing. I usually feel better after a bath anyway.

9. Visualize. Soreness is Mother Nature's way of letting you feel exactly how hard you've worked. It is evidence that your body is building muscle, so visualize it doing so. You'll begin to bask in the glow of a productive workout! In order to progress, there has to be some soreness.

10. Get enough food and sleep. I always feel like I need to sleep longer after an intense workout and it makes sense. Sleep is restorative and I need an extra dose of it to indeed restore. I also find I'm quite hungry the day following sweat sessions. I have to be careful to eat healthfully and feed my body the nutrients it needs to repair.

A Dream Journal Entry

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I had a dream last night that I was commending a younger woman, maybe 21, for publishing her first book. It almost felt as though I was talking to a different manifestation of myself. The girl was at a book release party and I was offering my praise to her for writing without consequence, indulging her talent despite the oppressive gamble that a writing profession can become, and making her way despite all the cumbersome rules and regulations of the writing world. She just wrote, simple as that. She did not fear the critics in her future. She did not read all the writing literature that could have made her feel like an unqualified impostor. She did not put down her pen when the plot puzzle seemed insolvable. She wrote, she worked, she succeeded.

This dream seemed to be a push for my later-20s self to get to it! Just write! And perhaps enjoy my productive 20s exactly as I would like them.

Taking Stock

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today is my birthday and there's no better day to take stock of your life than on the very day it began.

Although I'm edging closer and closer to 30, and my husband has pointed out some wrinkles beneath my eyes (thanks dear), I know I have a whole lot more to offer this planet in oncoming years.

Since it's my birthday and I can do whatever I want, I want to make sure I spend the whole year indulging in things that I truly do want. I don't want the majority of my life to be spent focusing on things that don't matter. I received a completely fitting birthday email from my favorite website,, that said "what matters most in life is often viewed as peripheral to the things we usually focus on" and that's just not right. We all have to work and we all have responsibilities, but that does not mean we should direct all our energy towards meaningless dust.

Even when we're at work, we can indulge in our favorite music on headphones, we can surround ourselves with fragrant flowers, and we can use our breaks to participate in our passions. Even when we're commuting in heavy traffic, we can listen to our favorite audio books. Even when we're waiting in a long line, we can take those moments to visualize our dream vacations or plot our Great American Novels.

This year will be the year I participate only in things that nourish my body and soul. Even formidable trips to the dentist have their place in whole-body wellbeing. And sweeping the kitchen provides a renewed, purified caccoon for my family and me. (After all, a clean room is much more relaxing to me). But also squeezing in lunches with friends, cultural activities and trips. Nourishing the body and soul not only involves doing things we're passionate about, but also acknowledging the nourishing aspects of the events that at first seem obstructive to our wellbeing.

Personal Goal List

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I think it's important to have a list of printed goals rather than a mind full of fleeting I-wish-I-would-haves or someday-I-wills. There are always steps we can take to accomplish almost anything, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

I think it's important to return to a childlike state of mind sometimes as well. I wrote a few songs in grade school that a music teacher translated into music for a Christmas pageant at church. There were no critics, no research, no statistics of songwriting success standing in my way.

Anyhow, here is my current list of goals. And this is a work in progress. I'll update as I think of new things.

Fitness goals:
1. Become a personal trainer.
2. Win a running race.
3. Run a race in another state.
4. Yoga: Be flexible enough to clasp my arms behind my back and master crow pose.
5. Write a fitness magazine article that gets printed in a major publication.
6. Be spotlighted in a fitness article as a success story.

Career goals:
1. Publish a novel.
2. Publish a book of poems.
3. Write magazine articles.
4. Be asked for an autograph from someone that I don't know.

Home life:
1. Move into a beautiful home in the country with a large sun room, hardwood floors, lots of windows and an inherent clean feeling where bums aren't likely to sleep on the porch or shatter windshields.

1. Weekend spa trip with yoga, nourishing food, and meditation.
2. Visit a remote location that has barely been touched by humans.
3. Snorkel to the coral reefs

Infomercial Maniac

I know one. Someone who has bought multiple products off of infomercials, especially when she worked third shift and infomercials were the only things on the channel-deficient television she was allowed to watch. Some were laughable (everyone knows there's no cure for stretch marks), some legitimate (I've heard good things about Proactiv®). Now I'm starting to bend for some. Namely P90X and Slim in 6. I don't really know a whole lot about them, but the buzz around me suggests they might be worth a shot.

I adore the idea of a complete fitness plan in one bundle where all the guesswork is removed and workouts are changed up every so often to keep muscles and people from getting bored. I'm not too keen on the price for something I'd like to see/try first. And P90X even sounds a bit hardcore for my athletic taste. There are always mixed reviews from people who have tried it which doesn't make the decision any easier. I think I'll wait until my neighbor or someone else close by tries it so I can get a first-hand account. (And maybe borrow a DVD or two just to preview it).

Feeling of Freedom

Monday, June 7, 2010

I won't give you my opinions on war, but I will say that I have undying support for our service members.

One of my very favorite things in life is the singing of the Star Spangled Banner at sporting events and any other organized event. The pride, the hands on the hearts, the removed hats, the way everyone drops what they're doing to stand still and listen, the way the song provides a feeling of cohesion and belonging among everyone in attendance, the people brave enough to sing those notes, the reverent silence, the depth behind the lyrics and the explosive applause afterwards. I get a little choked up every. single. time. So many emotions rush through me that it's difficult to keep my composure, but in a good way. I am proud that the flag yet waves o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Stott Pilates

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I went on a search for sunglasses two days ago at a discount home store and ended up coming across a Stott Pilates DVD for just $4. Naturally, as I'm always on the lookout for something new/different and affordable, I bought it. And last night I worked out along with the video and was pleasantly surprised.

I have tried a whole variety of Pilates DVDs only to be bored with the all-too-familiar repetition of the same old moves. Sometimes it seems like if you've seen one, you've seen them all. You do the hundred; you do you do the side-lying leg series; you do some single and double leg stretches; you do the saw, etc. However, this Stott Pilates DVD offered a lot of variations and a lot of adjustments that made the moves even more challenging (a bonus for the challenge-seeking non-beginners and beginners alike). You do the hundred on your knees and pump your arms from all different directions. But don't worry, you can still feel it in the core!

I actually felt rejuvenated after my workout and I felt like I actually worked out my arms. Imagine that--a Pilates routine that works on the arms! There were some isolated upper back moves, a few different kinds of push ups and a few different moves that integrated the biceps and triceps into the movements.

I think I might make a trip back to that store and make a few more selections while supplies last and the price is right!

Gregorian Chant

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I hope you don't think I'm a fruitcake, but I'm listening to Gregorian Chant on Pandora (the irony isn't lost on me) as we speak.

There is something so simplistic, yet something so powerful about this antiquated music form. It's deeply soothing, deeply spiritual and deeply grounding even though it's orchestrated without any accompanying music whatsoever. It takes any anxiety or tightness and melts it away. The resonant, meditative quality leaves you feeling like you have an innate sense of well being and purity.

The music brings me back to the safety and incense of the Catholic church I grew up in, the wooden pews, the skyward ceilings and the melancholy yet artful stained glass windows; a constant in my life.

Giving In

Thursday, May 20, 2010

One of the most important things you can do on a diet is to splurge. Yes, you heard that right. This can even applies to any other regimen you put yourself on, be it anything from budget to fitness-related.

Take the family that gets themselves into financial trouble by eating out almost every night. Instead of completely cutting dining out of their budget, they'd be more likely to abide by a revised budget if they penciled in restaurant meals once a week. A woman should never have to completely eliminate chocolate from her diet. She should indulge even once a day on a small piece of rich dark chocolate. Better yet, expensive dark chocolate. That way it really feels like a quality satisfying luxury, but one that's under control. Take dining out of the budget and chocolate out of the pantry, and you basically set yourself up for a binge. We all strongly desire what we think we can't have. Of course, these indulgences shouldn't happen after every single meal and shouldn't be in giant-sized proportions. Just a little something...

Portion control is important as is the quality of food eaten, but just as important are those moments when you surrender. No one can stick to a budget or fitness plan without a little fun and indulgence built in.

The Loss of a Much-Smaller Child

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I participated in a mourning ceremony yesterday. Wait, one died, thank heavens! But it was a mourning ceremony nonetheless. I went through my son's clothes from this past year and brought out all the new 24-month/2T stuff (whatever the heck the difference is). Some of my favorite little outfits went to the thrift store pile. Only a few pieces made their way to the attic for that just-in-case incident that another little fellow would join our family. As I went, the pj's got a little longer, shirts got a little wider and shoes took up more space in the top drawer. While I don't need to hang on to four bottle of Desitin, especially since potty training is in the works, I have a really hard time putting them in the donate pile when I really still want to be able to use them.

Hunched over for two hours organizing and purging that tiny little wardrobe not only did a number on my physical body, it also affected my store of momma emotions. That minuscule sweep of time from chubby thighs to long, stringy legs; that span of time between immobility and unstoppable energy; that wisp of time that carries the needy infant to the self-sufficient toddler passes nearly without notice until you're caught off-guard eliminating that tiny-hood from your mind and home.

A mom must really prepare herself for that constant evolution. She must steel herself against that trap of continuously feeling loss that she could let herself fall into. But she must also revel in those miraculous moments where she notices that something she had a tremendous part in creating is truly thriving and all those doubts about having a healthy child fall away.

Is an active job a workout?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I had a small argument with my dad about this. After a trip to the doctor, we was told his chances of having a heart attack were off the charts due to a combination of factors, including smoking, high cholesterol/triglyceride/everything readings, eating a full bag of Cheetos in one sitting and sleeping every hour he wasn't at work. My dad was previously a construction worker for over 20 years of his life. The man has some pipes. But he also has quite the belly and much-too-high cholesterol levels.

I know construction work can be exhausting. But just because you work in an active job doesn't mean you earn rights to eat anything you want. Just because you lift heavy objects all day does not give you license to neglect other body parts and your flexibility. Just because you only eat a small amount per day doesn't mean that calorie allowance should be filled with filth. And just because said lifting builds muscle, it doesn't mean you are getting any cardiovascular exercise, elevating your heart rate for an extended period of time. There is a HUGE difference. Let's not even get me started on the smoking, daddy-o!

And dad refuses to switch from white foods to whole grains; refuses to eliminate popcorn drowned in extra butter melted in the microwave; and refuses to eat most foods from the produce section, and that's just a start. He swears he doesn't eat that bad, but a real, honest food log would tell an entirely different story. I don't mean to rip on him, but I just have a hard time not getting mad. Now that I've made healthy trades and sort of jumped over to the "healthy" side, I absolutely hate excuses and I am easily saddened by situations where people decide not to take care of themselves. I suppose that's because I've done a lot of reading and research about how certain foods and exercise affect your health. Unhealthy people have probably not done so (or ignore the facts) and don't really understand what they're doing to their bodies.

I've helped when I've been asked. It's a gentle subject and I know the worst thing I could do is persist. I've given him a diagram of exercises to help strengthen his back and alleviate his pain, which I'm pretty sure ended up as a coaster. I made an entire booklet of information for him about healthy nutrition, because he couldn't afford to go to a nutritionist. Even though I was asked, I was still insulted (basically told I didn't know anything) and the book was completely ignored (i.e. discarded). Hours and hours of work down the drain is enough to make anyone angry.

When I became a mother, I lived, breathed, spoke, thought, and constantly worried about my health and that of my child. I think that's a natural reaction for a parent. I can't imagine losing anyone this close, especially for reasons that are within their control. I can so clearly see this teetering on a tightrope and it nearly makes me sick. I don't want to see my daddy hurting, especially like this. Please pops, can you do better than this so we can enjoy your presence for much much longer?

Nice Excuse

Friday, May 14, 2010

My foray as a backup hand model got me to thinking...ok, that sounds much more glamorous than it really is...But anyway, knowing that I could be called upon to put my digits on display, I keep a nail file, cuticle pusher and bottle of lotion within reach at my desk. Usually this is one of the first areas of my body to get neglected when time is at a premium. But this little modeling gig gives me a great excuse to keep those extremeties in presentable shape.

This got me to thinking of good excuses to get anything done. Lose 12 lbs, pen a fashion article, increase the amount in your emergency stash or teach your baby the ABC's. A great way to get any of this done is to think ahead to an event or deadline that you want to make. Plan a vacation and think about what you want to wear on that vacation. Then, keep that mental wardrobe in mind every time your butt plants itself on the couch. Reunions, vacations, momentous birthdays, and style trends you're dying to try make wonderful excuses to get off the couch. Writing contests or publishing calendars make wonderful motivators to sit down and finally polish off that manuscript. Milestone calendars provide a great push to help get your child to learn his alphabet. A hosted party is enough to get anyone's home in tip-top shape (or at least the debris out of sight).

These clean fingernails sure are inspiring!

Tracey Anderson Method

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So, I've been reading a lot about celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson lately. Just like other things I've written about, it seems once I hear about something, I'll hear about it a few times. Tracy Anderson popped up in my inbox twice in one day, so I thought it would be worth checking out.

There are devout followers and extreme skeptics of the Tracy Anderson Method. Tracy emphasizes the itsy bitsy dancer body, which of course isn't for everybody or every body. The claims made are that she has over a decade of research under her belt, but I'm very curious as to what and how trustworthy this research actually is. And some of the nutrition plans of hers that I've come across sound sketchy. And who on this Earth, besides Madonna, has two hours six days a week to work out? Just sayin'.

Anyhow, Tracy places a wonderful emphasis on improving strength and sculting a sexy body without worrying about adding bulk. It's a wonderful high rep/low weight method to try on alternate days from your low rep/high strength training days. Don't mistake the low weights as a workout for pansies, because some of them can be very hardcore. The method also has some similarities to Pilates, but with a much more diverse set of exercises. For one, Pilates puts focus on the core, while Tracy Anderson chisels out arm and leg muscles as well.

Althought I don't think the complete plan is sustainable, I am a proponent of variety. So, I have incorporated a few of Tracey's methods into my workouts this week.

Here are a few places where you can find a few free workouts from Tracy:

1. Daily Candy recently posted four workout videos with Tracy. This is a link to the "Tracy Anderson" search results. There are four different targeted workouts from which to pick and choose. Tracy guides you, but you have to pause the video to eke out the indicated reps by yourself.

2. Just type Tracy Anderson in YouTube to bring up several free 10-minute-ish workouts.

3. The home page of the Tracy Anderson Method Website offers a free workout video if you enter your email address. No gimmicks or hassle, or I wouldn't have signed up myself.

4. Self Magazine published a wonderful arm workout by Tracy several months ago. Print the slide show and do in your living room.

Check out Tracy's website and studio images. People are paying $900 a month to work out with her on funky pully systems and cube-shaped frames. She also made a series of workout DVDs you can get on her website or Amazon. For now, I'll just take advantage of the free online workouts, thanks.

Our Kids Live on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We definitely live on a less savory side of town. A few blocks either way, and we're in a little bit crustier surroundings than we'd like to expect. Fights heard through open windows are raspier and more public, lawn "care" is a word used much more loosely, dogs look a little more menacing, eff-bombs are dropped at a higher frequency, homes are marred by more broken windows and passing faces look slightly more hardened. Sometimes the only thing that's the same as the manicured lot is the smell of fabric softener coming from the basements.

When a rock was thrown through a neighbor's window last year, just for entertainment, even my husband commented that we need to get out of here. We generally feel safe with the presence of our pit bull, but I'm not sure how I'd feel without him. Walking the baby in his buggy at twilight is not as frothy as it sounds in these parts. You bring along your cell phone and rough-looking dog and throw your shoulders back as special unwritten signage that you won't be messed with.

Protecting my kid is the basis of nearly every single decision or act I make on a daily basis. When the tornado sirens went off last night, the only thing I wanted to do was teleport my son somewhere with blue skies, whether I was left behind or not. It's funny these silly ways that parenthood changes you.

Bravo Nike

Monday, May 3, 2010

Nike, of course, has it right. "Just do it." Whoever came up with the slogan in that marketing office deserves some sort of all-star award for this all-encompassing idea. Every single effort we make in our lives boils down to this elemental statement.

Whenever I'm in the midst of a crisis, personal lapse, writer's block, weight creep or any other stall on a personal end, I commit myself to researching the problem and developing a solution. I'm just very proactive like that. The trouble is, sometimes I know the answer, I just don't act on it. I know exactly what will make my stress more manageable; I know exactly what to listen to when I need a creative jump-start; I know that tracking food always takes the weight off. Sometimes the ideas seem too simplistic to really work. Of course sitting out in nature dissipates stress, but sometimes I'm just too bummed to get out from under the covers when I've convinced myself nothing will work anyway. Now, I'm a pretty resourceful and self-motivated person in some areas, but sometimes it all boils down to just doing it.

I've always had an immense desire for change, a raging internal drive to take myself to the next level in my profession, hobbies and relationships. I take grueling effort to research, list, calculate and produce solutions for everyday problems. Perhaps a publishing prize would be within reach if I actually sat down to write. Perhaps my PR for running would get better if I stuck to a training plan and ate only Running World-worthy food.

It's all a matter of just doing it.

You've Got Male

Friday, April 30, 2010

Will someone please explain to me the expectations of a man? Wow, loaded question. I have little understanding of that psyche that at once believes a woman should be the traditional nurturer and caretaker at the same time as she should also be the modern working woman. I enjoy my work and could never be a full-time, stay-at-home mom. That's just me. However, after days filled with meetings, deadlines, sales tactics and problem-solving, I revel in the chance to head out the door to the arms of my babbling bundle. I do not, however, enjoy the thought of plundering through an overflowing sink, curing grime-tinted floors, and reviving carpet from cat puke. But somehow, those roles have been delegated to me.

I understand the deep-seated desire for the traditional home cooked meal and clean house. I too enjoy the aroma of simmering stew and all those other smells that enveloped the childhood home. I just don't want to be the one who has to don the apron and create them. The magic disappears. The crumbs left over turn me into a grump and the dishes...oh, the dishes.

I have this theory that boys just don't see things like crumbs on the carpet and dog spit on the walls, which gets them out of cleaning them up. They've been programmed to "miss" the growing piles of envelopes, dust bunnies and weeds. Am I the only one in this house who ever picks up around here? Picks up what, dear? Alas, I give up.

It seems that the expectations we have of women are soaring while the expectations we have of men remain largely the same. While I believe wholeheartedly in equality, it is now increasingly difficult for a woman to catch a break while men are resting their feet on our polished living room tables.

Don't even get me started on the classic argument about how I work in an office and he works in a factory so therefore I should do more grunt work at home. Is my time put in worth nothing? Is kicking ass to put myself through college all on my own (and coming out with $0 debt, thank you very much) not enough to warrant me a little bit of respect and rest? Honey, you could've done what I did too and you wouldn't be working in the factory today, now would you?

After all the child-rearing, grocery shopping, interior decorating, itinerary making, snot chasing, budget writing, order taking, nursery-rhyme singing and full-time working, the modern woman sometimes wants to feel taken care of, after so long bearing the responsibility of "caring-for."

Bad Eating Habits

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There was a time when I had breakfast (um, pregnancy), a snack at 9am, a snack at 11am, lunch, a snack at 3pm, maybe another snack at home, and dinner. Wow! And I really didn't think much of it, but in writing that sounds like a train wreck. The thing was, I'd have an apple or banana for morning snacks and a granola bar in the afternoon. It didn't seem harmful. Once I got to adding up all those noshes though, I was amazed. How could fruit be sabotaging my diet? Well, it wasn't.

It was all those extra little bites of things here and there. I'd get home and grab a stack of Pringles and then grab a few more (because once you pop...). Dinner would consist of a pile of meat and plenty of sides. I'd sometimes drink several glasses of milk with meals. And all meals were topped off with at least a little bit of sugar for dessert. This all added up to way too much.

I started slowly, removing a snack here and there until I was comfortable enough to go between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and quitting time, without snacks. Then, I added those apples and bananas to my meals so my plate was more full of healthy fare instead of things like fries. I eliminated most of my liquid calories except for about two glasses of lowfat milk per day. That was the trick!

It's difficult though to remove all those snacks once you've gotten used to eating them every day. But that's the thing! The only reason I ate all those snacks was because I was used to them. I'm not famished in between meals now and I still snack when I'm feeling a little too hungry, but the desire for those constant snacks disappeared once I got used to not having them. Now, tea and gum keep my taste buds satisfied when I feel like I just need something in my mouth, not necessarily nourishment. It can be smart to spread 3 meals into 5 smaller ones throughout the day for some people, but it's crucial to keep those portions pared way down and not let all that snacking get out of control.

Breast Cancer Care Package

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In an unfortunate turn of events, two of my dear friends are undergoing treatments for breast cancer at the exact same time. From an outsider's point of view, it is difficult to know what to say, offer, or do in times like this. Some friends drop off the planet because they don't know how to approach a sick person. I strive to not be one of those "friends". I want to offer as much support as I can from my position. I've done some research and soul-searching and come up with a few ideas for care packages that I thought would come in handy for someone going through a double mastectomy or even any medical treatment:

1. Lipstick, perhaps along with a copy of "Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy." I remember reading a clip from this book in a magazine, celebrating femininity and encouraging a sense of hope in anyone fighting this disease. Once a woman begins wearing lipstick again, she's on the road to recovery.

2. Nail polish, neck scarf or bold jewelry. Same principles as above apply. A woman is a woman no matter if her breasts are attached or not. She can still celebrate her inner and outer beauty in other ways. Let your loved one know that her beauty and value as a woman is most definitely not attached to her chest.

3. Form pillow. Women going through painful treatments can use as much creature comforts and padding as you can give them.

4. Cashmere socks (or socks infused with aloe like I found). Keeps her extremities warm and pampered at the same time.

5. Handheld games, magazines, and other reading material. This sort of thing helps pass the time and entertain her when she's in another waiting room or receiving treatments.

6. I found a book called something to the effect of "200 Foods That Will Save Your Life." You have to be careful with this one. You don't want to insult your dear friend or violate any diets her health care provider has recommended. But if she's talking about overhauling her diet and lifestyle, something to help her along in the process is always appreciated. This book explained each superfood's health benefits and provided a recipe for each.

7. Journal. Whether she wants to vent, hope, or write letters to her children, a journal provides a woman with a wonderful creative outlet.

8. Daily devotion book. You have to be careful with this one too because of varying religious beliefs, but if you know your friend's beliefs, this sort of spiritual reassurance can help heal her soul and instill her with a sense of peace.

9. Comedic relief. A comic book, funny movie, or handcrafted book of goofy pictures helps revive joy in an otherwise morose circumstance. Laughter truly is medicine. I've even read studies about laughter and how it reduces pain and helps the healing process.

10. Hot/cold pack. I found a nice pack that can be both heated up and frozen for whatever sort of relief she needs.

11. If she's up for it and you can manage it, one of the best things you can do is just to be there for her. Provide moral support during treatments, lighten her load, provide her and her family with dinner, or stop by and hold her hand for awhile. It's always reassuring to know you have people who love you and want to take care of you.

12. A cancer buddy/weapon/curer. Find a trinket that reminds you of your friend. Maybe a healing stone, a plush stuffed lion or a fake sword that she can bring with her to the hospital. There should be some significance attached to the object of course, such as a "cancer weapon" sword, so that your friend is not only reminded of the love of her friends each time she sees it but also gives her courage in her fight.

13. False eyelashes and nails. Chemo treatments can leave a woman without eyelashes and healthy fingernails, and a woman always loves to feel gussied up and pampered.

14. Do a 5k in her name. Find a race in your area that benefits cancer research and scout out donations. Progressing the search for a cure has to be one of the most productive ways you can help your friend (and the rest of humanity that faces cancer risk).

New Take On MBT Shoes

I just love to find new and improved ways to workout or ways to make working out more efficient and fun. Today, in my Daily Candy newsletter, I found a video clip of these fun shoes that look like a cross between Rollerblades and mini trampolines. They're called kangoo jumps. Basically, when you're taking a jog, these boots take the bulk of the stress off your joints while giving you a great workout. They literally put a bounce in your step. The price tag is a little high for me, but if I could rent them or something, I certainly would give them a try. Looks like the contraptions elicit a lot of gawking as well.

Vintage Stealers

Friday, April 16, 2010

Does anyone else feel a little bit ripped off when people sell "handpicked vintage" items? I guess in a way, it makes a little bit of sense. The "pickers" find labels and styles that are highly saleable and buyers don't have to do the dirty picking work. However, for people like me, with little cash to spare and a love of all things thrift, it seems like stealing to buy a $1.00 dress at the thrift store and turn around and sell it for $30.00 in a boutique. My potential to buy and recycle an old piece of clothing is now gone and I'm looking at price tags that rival brand new clothes with vintage-inspired designs.

I see this quite often now on ebay, Etsy, and those little vintage boutiques that are popping up everywhere. A vintage designer label or valuable antique is a whole different story--they deserve a little more respect and reverence. But cute handmade skirts, children's storybooks and quirky glass cups, please don't take them out of the reach of the rest of the recession-strapped population. We would love them!

How to be Popular

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Remember those agonizing days growing up when you wanted so bad to be part of the "in-crowd" you practically researched how to be cool? It even physically hurts to write that. With my nerd flag flying high, I checked out books at the library with titles like "The Popularity Plan" and "How to be a Star." The first was actually a novel, the second was a book about acting with pictures of Fred Savage on the front. Oh boy! Of course none of those ideas worked, and probably made me even more of the brunt of jokes than anything.

There was one summer when my biggest dreams came true and the popular girl invited my best friend and I to her house for a sleepover. Just us. Just the two girls that were endlessly mocked and outcast and left out. But, to our defense, we were also the two smart girls. Witty, observant, and persevering. Finally, it seemed as though our perseverance to be cool had paid off. We spent the entire summer with this girl. We would stay at each others' houses for weeks at a time, go shopping together and explore local attractions. We practically studied this girl's movements, clothing choices, and body language. We finally thought we would be actresses in our own movie where the unpopular get magically transformed into the most admired. Finally, all of our tireless work to become cool had paid off.

Once we went back to school in the fall though, the pressure of being friends with us was put to the test and ultimately the friendship went sour. Little things that we did at each others' houses became ammunition for mockery. I once used the girl's dandruff shampoo because that was all that was in her shower. So, the other kids tortured me for non-existent dandruff. I was shell-shocked. We thought we were bonding. We thought we were going to be cool kids. We thought we had finally elbowed our way to the top only to come crashing down further than we ever had before. Now our private secrets, something that were sacred and secret before, were now in the most vulnerable of positions.

I still have dreams every now and then about being the most hated girl in school. Sometimes it's powerful enough to even put a damper on my adult self-esteem. And sometimes incidents at work or in my social life bring those feelings back up to the surface. It sort of brings fear for my son to the surface too, although I'm pretty sure Catholic school girls are much more cutthroat than public school boys.

Next year there will be a 10-year high school reunion. I'm not sure whether I will go or not, but I do know that I am very proud of how far I've come since those agonizing school daze...I mean days.

Gym Rookies

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I've heard people who are so self-conscious of their weight that they will forgo a gym membership just for that reason. Heck, I was probably one of them. Well, I actually thought gyms were for hardcore weight lifting men with excessive muscle. I had no idea that the gym was a regular place for regular people and their regular fitness routines until I joined one.

The first thing to remember is, some of these people started their fitness journeys in your same shoes. They may have been overweight, hesitant to join, and completely unsure of themselves in that new place. They know exactly how you're feeling and can sympathize with your uncertainty. They are much more likely to be internally rooting for you rather than judging you. They're more likely glad that you're there, taking care of yourself, than not.

Second, everyone is really probably only thinking about themselves. People are very self-conscious when they're grunting, sweating, and struggling in front of other people. They're all worried about themselves. It's actually sort of comical if you watch people for awhile. They all check themselves out in the mirrors around the gym. Don't worry, they're more worried about their own sagging skin than your cellulite. Or they're busy focusing on their workout form.

Third, I've noticed, especially with runners, there is a sort of unspoken comaraderie among people who run. It doesn't matter if you're an elite athlete or a slow beginner. Runners cheer each other on. I have never seen so much enthusiasm or experienced so much encouragement as when I'm out running, especially in road races. At the gym, you're doing something that most of the population disregards, and you can take pride in the fact that you're there instead of glued to the tube.

The easiest way to acclimate yourself to a new gym is to take a tour, take the gym up on their free personal training sessions, or try out a group fitness class. Just getting accustomed to the lingo, equipment and faces let you dip your feet without drowning. Read up a little bit on fitness equipment before you head in and print off a few workouts you can try. Take a friend with you for those free weekly trials so you have a buddy in this unchartered territory. I also find that reading or listening to music helps me fall into my own little wonderland where I don't even know what's happening around me.

Happy Lifting!

Not All Opposites Attract

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Here's a little insight into the differences between someone who is healthy and someone who is not. Some of them might be overgeneralizations, but really, the habits between the two groups are significantly different. And in no way am I trying to be insulting, because I myself have been on both sides of the equation and know all too well the upsides and downsides of both. Here's my experience with healthy vs. not-so-healthy.

1. Enthusiastic about each opportunity to walk instead of drive/Moan at the thought of having to cross a parking lot to reach a neighboring store.

2. Find little ways to incorporate activity into everything, even lunch/Barely leave their desk and would rather not even take the stairs.

3. Find time, no matter what the circumstances or how many kids they have, to work out several times each week/Offer an extensive list of excuses as to why exercise just isn’t feasible.

4. Take pride in trying out new fruits and vegetables and have a recipe collection for common favorites/Most fruits are ingested in juice form.

5. Knows what most fruits and vegetables look like/Not sure where to find an eggplant.

6. Pantries and fridges are full of healthy fare from the perimeter of the grocery store/Boxed meals and prepackaged goods usually make the cut.

7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle long-term/diet on and off; regularly sign up for different weight loss programs and quit after a short time.

8. Thoughts of the deep-frying process make you a bit nauseous/Thoughts of keeping down Brussels sprouts makes you turn up your nose.

9. Take charge, research and implement healthy living strategies/Wait for some miracle cure, supplement or equation to take all the guesswork out and require the least work possible.

10. Comfortable being uncomfortable for healthful gains/Huffing and puffing are avoided at all costs.

11. Have at least a basic idea of how to read nutrition labels and eyeball a serving size/Likely eat much more than one serving and think labels are way too scientific to even bother with.

12. Barely watch television and sometimes work out during commercials/Have at least 2 or more shows each weeknight that they catch on a regular basis.

13. Work at healthful habits one step and small goal at a time/Use an all-or-nothing approach and go all-out only to come crashing to a halt days later.

14. Small setbacks don't completely derail the healthy lifestyle/A minor slip-up might completely sabotage willpower.

15. Enjoy small indulgences every once in awhile/Try to completely eliminate certain foods, label foods good and bad, and/or go overboard on portion size.

The Sweetest Dreams

Is it wrong to rue that day when nap-time comes to an end? It hasn't happened yet, but I have this awful fear about how time flies too fast and this good thing will come to an end. For those three sweet hours, that 24-hour parental responsibility seems a little bit more manageable. Little tasks that prove impossible with a mommy-reliant Little One toddling about are completed, novels are revisited, marriages resurface and the house is again quiet.

I love love love being a mom. But sometimes that nap-time respite is required for sanity and retrieving my bearings. They leave mommy feeling rejuvenated and remind mommy about her valuable roles outside of mommyhood.

So far, my son likes to sleep. The 20-month-old drifts into REM for a solid three hours most of the time, on top of the 11 straight hours at night. I only get to enjoy these three hours on weekends because of my dear friend, Full-Time Work. So, my "me time" is limited. But this heaven-sent, built-in babysitter does all the work for me. I get to bring my own sweet dreams to realization when those little peepers are closed. I just can't leave the house.