Surviving My Long Drive to Work

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our recent move to our country home took us far away from the city, from work, from my mom's house, from stores, from everything. That's what we wanted, of course! To be away from the frenzy of the city. But the drive is something that is taking some getting used to. I shouldn't complain, but when you go from a 1 mile commute--walking distance--to a 25 mile one, you really have some adjusting to do.

While I'm not too keen on driving in general (I LOVE being a passenger) or paying the astounding extra gas costs, I'm trying to find the positive aspects of this long drive. Since I'll be making this long drive for the foreseeable future, I might as well learn to love it, right?

Now, when I'm driving, I'm trying to really "see" what's going past the windows. I'm trying to not take the passing scenery for granted and really notice the cool fog effects, the waking animals, the sunshine. Oh, the sunshine! One of the most pleasurable parts of my drive now is lifting my face toward the sun. Now, I am potentially getting 60 minutes of sunlight on my drive versus the quick flash of light when I was only going 2 miles and sitting inside the office all day.

Thinking and decompressing before walking in the door has been another benefit of a long drive. That 1 mile commute sometimes left me feeling bombarded. All the thoughts that I had rolling around in my mind at the end of a day weren't processed in that short of time, and I had to shift focus within seconds to children and husband and pet, all converging on me. This new drive is a more gentle transition and leaves me time and space to process all the information of the day and leave what I don't want behind me. I have been coming up with great ideas while driving now, and think I'm going to have to invest in a recorder soon:)

No haters please, but I've also been catching up with friends on the phone since I have 35 minutes of uninterrupted air time. I am a much better friend now because I have that time to chat without feeling guilty that I'm neglecting anyone at home. It's hard to find that uninterrupted time to call long-distance friends, but my new drive has opened up chat time for me.

I have also been catching up on podcasts. At first, I was really excited because we have an old CD player in the car and I thought "great, now I can catch up on myriads of books on CD from the library." I was so excited to catch up on all the classics and some self-development--it was really one of the only things I was looking forward to. Well, wouldn't you know, right before we moved, the car CD player seized up and no longer works. Total bummer!!! Well, to make up for it, I found an FM tuner at Best Buy and I have been downloading podcasts with free Wifi at work to listen to with it, and it doesn't cost me data on my phone either.

And finally, when I'm not listening to podcasts, I've been listening to uplifting or informational radio, like KLove and NPR, which satisfies my constant need for information and positivity. I never thought about it before, but there is not one single "downer" song on Christian radio, making it a great way to feed my mind good things.

What do you like to do on long drives alone? What other options might I have?

My Favorite Planner Notebook: Staples Arc System

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Oh, the Arc System, how I love thee. I was first introduced to these notebooks when I was searching for a graduation gift for one of my interns. She was an uber-organized, Type-A person who I knew would appreciate what these had to offer. Once I found them and bought one for her, I knew I absolutely had to have one for myself. I used the notebook as a reward for myself for when I passed my NASM exam.

Meet the Arc System. I'm having a love affair with them. Don't tell Hubster.

Check out this video to peek into my planner on YouTube.

Staples and Office Max both have their own versions of this notebook, as do Levenger, Rollabind and Martha Stewart. In fact, they're all compatible with each other. What these notebooks consist of are circular disks (which come in various sizes) that the paper attaches to. But each page is entirely removable and then replaceable. What makes that so amazing is that its a perpetual notebook that works forever. You can continue tearing pages out and buying refills as needed. And you can combine all your notebooks for all your different projects in one so you don't have to carry them all around separately.

You can also purchase all different kinds of fillers from graph paper to calendars to regular lined paper. Believe me, I stood in that aisle for a good half-hour weighing my options. Ok, probably more like an hour. Not only can you buy different fillers, but you can also buy file folders, page dividers, small list pads, sticky notes and other things that work with the disks too.

You can also use any of your own paper to refill the planner. To do that, you just need to pick up a compatible paper punch. The big hole punches cost upwards of $50, but you can get this "portable punch" from Levenger for just $16 like I did.

I only punch a sheet here and there so this works perfect for me. One such sheet is this page of scriptures that speak to my anxiety so I can reference it when I need it.

I like to use cute printables for my calendars instead of the ones that Arc puts out. Just do a quick search on Pinterest for calendar printables and you'll find something in your style. Right now, I'm liking these.

I also have a small Rollabind version of the notebook that I found at work. I love the portable size! I use this notebook to record the workouts that I've been designing.

We had another sale at work where I found a few more Rollabinds and I snatched 3 up right away because I love them so much. They're stashed away for a day where I decide I need another notebook for something. I'm a writer. It happens.

I encourage anyone that loves notebooks, planners, organizing, printables, etc to pick up one of these systems and choose a few inserts that suit your taste. Then, come back here and tell me how addicted you are. What are your favorite planners/notebooks?

Weekly Food and Fitness

Monday, February 22, 2016

**Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workout Schedule:

Monday: 30 minutes strength training with weights
Tuesday: 30 min Barefoot Cardio
Wednesday: 20 min TIU Hula Booty from Beach Babe 2
Thursday: 30 min steady state run
Friday: 35 Piyo Sweat
Saturday: 35 min HIIT run, 3 min/1 min intervals
Sunday: active rest, 30 min light yoga with Shiva Rae

On the Menu this week:

Breakfast: Shakeology Berry Smoothie, egg whites + tomatoes and mushrooms, TIU bombshell spell
Snack: grapefruit
Lunch: Romaine Thai Turkey Cups
Snack: Cottage cheese and chickpeas
Dinners: turkey dogs, tuna salad, broccoli ravioli, grilled pork chops

Hubster and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year and we are booking a trip for somewhere like the Bahamas or Cancun. Not sure yet. What I am sure of is that I need to get my butt in shape in the next few months. I have a check-in with my doctor this week again, because things aren't adding up when I look at calorie intake and workouts. I am not losing like I should be according to the math. Hopefully I can get some insight and tighten up my diet and see the weight budge.

How are you workout out/eating this week?

How to do the LiveFit Series at Home

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

For those of you that don't know, offers a bunch of free 30 to 90 day fitness programs for both men and women on their website. You can choose a program to lose weight, muscle up and everything in between. I have tried the LifeFit Trainer before in the past and enjoyed it. It's one of the most impressive workout and clean eating programs that I've seen anywhere for free. But, it requires access to a gym. Until now.

Hubster helped me film a video this weekend showing how to do Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer at home. I filmed substitutes for most of the moves that require specific gym equipment. To do the LiveFit Trainer at home, you need little more than a chair, weights, resistance bands and maybe an exercise ball. I did a few moves in the video with ankle weights, but you could even skip those and put a weight plate between your feet instead.

  • Seated calf raise: use ankle weights and/or place a weight plate on top of your knees.
  • Leg curls: wear ankle weights, lie on your stomach and bend legs behind you. Keep upper thighs off floor to make it tougher.
  • Leg extensions: put on ankle weights, use a sturdy chair and do extensions. You may also put a weight plate between your ankles.
  • Adductor: Squeeze an inflatable ball between the thighs.
  • Abductor: wrap tubing around upper thighs and perform an abductor press.
  • Back extensions: perform on ball
  • Reverse Fly: belly on ball, do a reverse fly.
  • Cable Rope Overhead Extension: Stand on one end of a resistance tube and perform a tricep extension with the other end.
  • Leg press: it's difficult to do this move at home, but you can do heavy squats to get a similar effect. Use heavy weights or resistance tubing to intensify the squats.
  • T-bar row: perform rows with similar arm position using a heavy dumbbell.
  • Incline Press and Decline Crunch: any incline/decline moves can be done on a stepper. Put the risers under one side of the step to create the slant.
  • Standing calf raise: hang heels off any step in your home and lift up onto the balls of your feet.
  • Seated cable rows: I wind my rubber tubing around my treadmill and do them that way. Use thicker brands and choke up on the bands as you get stronger.
  • Triceps Pushdown: anchor the stretch tubing a little higher and perform the move.
  • Lat Pulldown: same position as triceps pushdown, perform a pulldown.
  • Underhand Cable Pulldown: same as lat pulldown, but switch hand position to underhand.
  • Cable Crunch: same anchor point, grab both ends of the tubing in your hands and perform a kneeling crunch.
  • Straight Arm Pulldown: same anchor point, pull arms straight down to your sides.
  • Cable Crossovers: I wound my tubing around both handles of the treadmill and did the crossovers kneeling.
  • Donkey calf raises: my little boy happily obliged climbing onto my back to do these.
  • Roman chair leg lifts: use the corner of your kitchen cupboards to rest your arms on. You can still pull your knees up to target abs.
Not shown:

  • Hanging leg raises and pullups: use your pull-up bar or monkey bars at the park. I don't have these in the video because I didn't have the equipment readily available while I was filming.
  • Lying T-bar row: belly on ball, perform a row

I hope this helps some of you tackle this excellent program at home. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

American Tanka

Monday, February 15, 2016

Once upon a time, I submitted some tanka poetry to American Tanka and got a "these are close" comment. Now, if you know anything about submitting your work in the literary world, you know that automated rejection slips are proliferate. To even get a personal note back is rare. To get a "these are close" comment is as close to getting published as possible. I am proud:)

Now, tanka is similar to haiku in its form as a short poem that packs an entire experience into very few words. There are 5 lines and the typical syllable pattern is 5-7-5-7-7.  But American Tanka doesn't completely adhere to these stringent rules due to the differences in the language structures between Japanese and English. My poems below don't adhere to the syllabic rules, but they do point to very concise, precise moments. Enjoy!

Nothing we can do
but wait until they drip dry-
those icicles 
tight against
our power line.
Hand-in-hand we 
pass holes in a
winter-beaten road
beside the discomforting 
rip in your jeans.
The note he left
was stacks of collected
white paper
he never could
She fashions
title and border
for her pictures,
poems and letters
to surround the vacant hour.
The sparkle faded
from her eye
as she detected
a dish, dust mite
and ripped fabric.

Insights From Nature as Spiritual Practice

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

So, I was perusing the spiritual section at the library and came across this made-for-me book and quickly checked it out. Nature as Spiritual Practice. Yes, yes, yes!

I am so excited about this book!!! Out in the counterculture, there is much written about nature and it's connection to the metaphysical. This is where I always end up landing somehow when I'm trying to find articles and insights about connecting to nature. But the metaphysical and magical don't interest me. I'm always on a quest to find something that aligns with my beliefs. Nature has always intuitively been something that I've wanted to explore on a spiritual side. We had a Bible study at church about finding your purpose, and nature kept popping up for me, but I wasn't sure how to merge my spiritual life with nature. Now I am equipped to do that, and take it so much deeper!

After reading the first chapter and exercise, I immediately put this book on my Amazon Wishlist...and shortly thereafter, let's just be real here, I bought it, along with its companion field guide.

I hadn't even gotten past the "How to Use This Book" section before I came to some overwhelming, mind-blowing realizations. This book was exactly what I didn't even know I was looking for!

Every leaf and flower bear the marks and give witness to their Creator...Perception of this reality requires contemplative attention, the eyes of the heart, and the wonder of a child...It is a book that assumes that the glory of the Creator is discernible in creation's ecological material, sacramental, and spiritual realities.


Creation speaks, and the language of creation shapes, forms, and transforms relationships. Our human/creation relationship is born of our common parentage, the relationship is realized in practice. Still pulsing through the lifeblood of this human/creation connection are common genes--common genes whose function seems to be the nurturing of mindful attention, wonder, and shared longing to return to their Creator. Through the eyes of the senses and the eyes of wisdom and the eyes of faith, we behold the Easter in the ordinary, the mundane in the sacred.
And this!

Nature is Christian practice: she is the teacher and she is material and she is spiritual--the everyday and the sacramental.

So much this!!!

I'm reminded of Romans 1:20: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." All these little miracles in nature are evidence of God!!!!

I can't wait to explore more of this book and dig deeper. I especially can't wait until the weather changes to be more conducive to this life-bearing exploration.

What are you reading? And what is it teaching you?

Weekly Food and Fitness--And the Easiest Pumpkin Turkey Chili Recipe Ever

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workout Schedule
Monday: 30 min FlashFit (workout series designed by me!)
Tuesday: 30 min interval run
Wednesday: 30 min Supreme 90 Day total body
Thursday: 30 min steady run
Friday: 30 min Tracy Anderson workout
Saturday: 35 min interval run
Sunday: Rest

On the menu this week:

  • Breakfast: My favorite Shakeology smoothie, Greek yogurt and egg whites with spinach.
  • Lunch: Pumpkin turkey chili {below} and my own version of peanut butter balls
  • Snack: cottage cheese with chickpeas (you've got to try this combo!!!)
  • Dinners: Mini pizzas, turkey/green bean casserole, crockpot chicken, etc.

Here's a quick recipe for the chili I made for my lunches. It is adapted from several of my favorite chili recipes in one. I took ingredients that I loved and were super easy to assemble (mostly canned--still healthy) and came up with this:

Easiest Pumpkin Turkey Chili
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can pumpkin
2 lbs lean ground turkey
your favorite chili seasonings (I used garlic powder, chili powder and cumin)

  1. Brown the turkey, drain the oil.
  2. Dump in the rest of the ingredients and warm through.

Yes, that simple!!! I also would've added one diced onion if I had remembered to pick one up. The pumpkin may sound weird, but it really makes the chili so rich and creamy without any added cheese or sour cream. I actually went with a 15-oz can of pumpkin rather than the larger can shown in the picture. You don't really taste the pumpkin taste either, but do you know how brilliant pumpkin is for your health? You should definitely look it up!

I had my entire house clean on Saturday and my entire work week of food prepped by Sunday afternoon. I proudly read and relaxed the rest of Sunday after this was all prepared, for the first time since we moved. I haven't done that in a loooooooong time. Ever since we've moved, the projects and piles have prevented me from even wanting to relax. So, this type of simple food prep really helped get me to the point where I actually felt like I could relax and read.

How about you, what does your week of food and workouts look like?