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, sparkpeople.com, 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!