Resolutions and Meditations

It’s a new year, and around this time people make resolutions to go to the gym, try to lose weight, eat healthy, be nicer, make a change or begin something new – in order to make the present year better than the last.

I am no different – as usual, the holidays took its toll on me – too much poor eating & drinking, not enough exercise and all-around busyness that made my mind spin.

So, I am happy to get back into some sort of “normal” routine – getting up at the same time every day and being a little less busy so I have time to get back to exercising in the mornings and time to make a healthy meal once a week that I can eat multiple times as left-overs.

I don’t necessarily do things as a “resolution” though – it is more about getting back to the ideals I normally keep. Resolutions often fail by February or March – as I’ve mentioned in the past, the key to lasting change is to make it part of your everyday routine.

I DO take stock once a year by doing an organized, timed activity to figure out things that I would like to begin doing (or something new to try), keep doing (if I think they are still working) or what I want to get rid of or not have in my life any more. The subject itself is actually very similar to something we have often done in the past at work, called “Start, Stop, Continue.” It’s pretty self-explanatory, but my activity takes it to the next level.

In doing this, I have already begun to exercise in the morning again, but there is a new interest I had been pursuing… when someone very close to me mentioned something she heard  about the benefits of meditation, I was like, “Hey! I have actually been searching into that recently!”

What started me off was a podcast named “Buddhism, Bravery, Love and the Good Life”, Released Nov 03, 2015, where there was an interview with a guy named Lodro Rinzler.

It was on a great podcast series that I have listened to for awhile now, called “Good Life Project“. (You can find the podcasts here.) Like most things, it took me an episode or two before I could get into it… but once I did, I was hooked! Jonathan Fields interviews many current self-improvement guru’s, book authors and all-around successful people. Even if I hadn’t seemed interested in 1 or 2 of the interviewees, I listened to them and I have to say I get something positive from EVERY episode.

SitGetting back on track… Fields interviewed Lodro Rinzler, who seemed like a regular guy who was into Buddhism and wrote some books on Meditation. Two of the books are “Sit Like a Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation” and “The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation.”

Right after that I went to a Barnes & Noble store, saw the books and took a pic of the covers with my phone, so I could come back when I got a 20% off coupon.

About a week later (around the holidays) I happened to be on Audible.com (if you sign up, mention my email and I get a free book!) and saw the “Sit like a Buddha” audio book for some crazy low price like $2.99! I bought it and listened to it in just 2 hours. I totally suggest this one if you want to get started right away on meditation. It is a very short “pocket guide” on how to meditate and it gets you to think about WHY you want to even try meditation.

BuddhaWalksBarCrazily enough, not even 2 days after I finished that book, the “Audible book of the day” (they choose 1 discounted book every day) happened to be “The Buddha Walks into a Bar…” book, for I think the same $2.99 price! I thought that was pretty serendipitous! I felt that this one wasn’t quite as good a starter book as “Sit…” plus, it had some of the same info in it.

Well, since then, I have tried practicing meditation 4 out of 5 days now!

Do I think it is helping me in any way? I’m not sure yet. As everyone says, it is a practice, so it takes a while to get used to it. What I CAN say is that since it is on my mind, when I’m in a situation, like when someone cuts me off in traffic… initially, when I want to scream profanity at them (like I normally do), there is some “cue” that brings meditation to my attention.. and instead of screaming and waving only 1 finger at them, I calmly say “They are just stupid.”

OK, I’m not proud of that – I’m honest in my posts – but when someone cuts you off and there is literally NO ONE behind you… you have to question the mental capacity of that person. (Oh well… I never said I was perfect).

I have to say that it IS very calming and clears my head while I’m doing it.

At this point, I want it to be known that meditation comes from the first Buddha (which means “enlightened one”) – it is NOT a scary religion you need to join – ANYONE can enjoy the benefits of meditation. There are many forms of meditation, but some common themes are for gratitude, being present, joy, compassion, relaxation, falling asleep and healing anxiety.

There is much talk out there about meditation being able to reduce stress and help tame that little chatter in your head that sometimes doesn’t say the most positive things about yourself (am I the only one who hears that?!!!).

According to the Mayo Clinic “The emotional benefits of meditation can include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions”

Good enough for me!

BreatheI also downloaded 2 apps that I’ve been trying too, the best of which is called “Stop, Breathe & Think.” It has you rate how you feel (mentally & physically) daily and then provides a few meditations you can choose from. Most seem to be around 6 minutes, which is perfect! The woman’s voice is calming and it is very specific for what you are feeling… it is almost like a “Psychotherapist-in-a-box!”

I really recommend this app.

Also, I have come across a 5 minute  a quick-start guide to meditation at meditationmojo.com. Follow the link for instructions.

Now here are the general steps that seem to be common in meditation practice as well as my tips about it:

  • Find a place you can go that is quiet and dark. I’m not sure I want to tell you exactly where I meditate, but I have a dog that gets “separation anxiety” if I even walk out of the room and his whining makes it VERY difficult and distracting to meditate! So, there is only one room in my house that I can close the door from him that he will remain calm.
  • Sit upright in a chair (or on a large pillow with your legs crossed if you are limber and prefer it), with your feet flat on the ground and let your hands flop onto your lap in a natural and comfortable way. You don’t need to be palms-up, with your back at a perfect 90-degree angle to your legs or anything ( you’re watching too many movies! lol)
  • Set an alarm for 10 minutes. (or more if you have more time)
  • Begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Once you’re in it for a few minutes you can just breathe through your nose.
  • Close your eyes and try to clear your mind of everything. Close your eyes and focus on the visual of air coming in your nose, going into your lungs and out through your mouth. You can even count 1-10 with every inhale and exhale to keep your mind on your breathing.
  • Know that your mind WILL wander. A LOT! Seriously, this is totally normal – that’s why meditation is called a practice. Don’t beat yourself up. Calmly direct your mind back to your breathing by accepting the thoughts and saying in your mind, “Thinking…”.
  • Don’t try to force sounds or other stimulus out of your mind. Simply accept them, try not to have any opinion on them and then redirect to your breathing.
  • Try to meditate at least 10 minutes every day, at the same time of day. The routine may help you keep to it. I have also heard that first thing in the morning is the best way to start off your day. For me, it is right when I get home from work – it is a good transition. However, I was super-busy on one of the days, so at lunch time I went into my car and did it. It wasn’t as good, but I kept my streak up.
  • Bring your mind back to your physical body and the feeling of it sitting.
  • That’s it! Well, mostly.

Personally, I don’t have any “mantra” or anything that I chant. There is a lot of info out there, so just Google-search meditation if you get into it and do what you are comfortable with.

I could go on and on about what I have come across so far, but I’ll just say to give it a chance if you would like to learn to relax or just calm your mind in certain situations.

Just like anything else, meditation may not work for you or you may not have enough patience for it. I like to try new things to share with you all, and this is one more item for your health arsenal!

Please share your opinions, thoughts or practices on meditation with all of us. We might all benefit from it!

 

 

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Gym Wars – XSport vs Lifetime

489121_57858448Lately I have been thinking about changing gyms for better convenience and cleanliness.

I have been a member of XSport for a few years. I had a personal trainer a few years ago, Tony, who was great and I saw both weight loss and improved strength in myself. Then I injured my knee and lost motivation, and right now I am not where I’d like to be… wearing tight jeans sucks! (Unless you’re at a club and deal with it to look good).

However, I have gotten back into working out more regularly – yes, I am still doing morning workout videos and feel better when I do them (see last post). But still, I need the weight machines to complete my workouts.

So, tonight I went and met a guest service guy at Lifetime Fitness and tested the facilities.

First, he walked me around the huge mall facilities. It was nice, the machines were not too close together and there were plenty of them empty. I saw a friend from work – hi Shelly!

They kind of are a little pushy to get you as a member, but so was XSport when I joined. Lifetime seems to be all about the experience of getting you with a personal trainer to fit your fitness goals, which is great if that’s what you want. Not me – I want to work out and be left alone.

I was upfront right away, I said that I am a member of XSport, but the large ones that have the nice amenities that I want are at least 25 minutes away from me. So, I’m only able to go once a week when I have extra time. Otherwise, I go to the super-small local XSport Express, which is small and not the cleanest place (but I’m not saying it’s really dirty either)… it’s just not “nice” like the bigger XSports or Lifetime. The machines are often taken and there’s pretty much only one of each weight machine.

EarphonesMy reason for coming to Lifetime was thinking that if it was only 5 minutes from my house, it would be totally convenient and I’d end up going more often. Plus, I knew it would be clean and big.

Following are my takes on Lifetime and the XSports…

LIFETIME:

…clean, has premium soap/body gel that smells fantastic and foams well, has plenty of equipment (machines) available even at prime rush hour workout time, is just plain big, has nice amenities and classes, has a pool and swimming laps, large locker rooms, clean steam room, whirlpool, clean showers, ALWAYS has plenty of big towels available and has areas for kids, but that’s also a negative for me because there are WAY too many little kids running around the pool splashing and screaming! (Big drawback for Mikey – maybe even a “dealbreaker”.) I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of good things. BUT IT IS HUGELY EXPENSIVE!

XSport Express:

…is more comfortable but small, so I’m in and out a lot quicker. There are no towels there though, I sometimes have to wait for a machine, and membership is a LOT cheaper! There’s only 1 shower stall, so I would NEVER shower there – I’d wait till I get home.

FULL SIZE XSport:

…gives Lifetime a run for their money… they also have a steam room, lap pool, group classes, a lot of machines (but not near as many as Lifetime), Whirlpool and towels (but crappy small ones and you sometimes have to wait for them to be washed to get one). I have never heard a peep out of a child there (big plus!). I even told the Lifetime guy that if one of the large XSports was closer, I wouldn’t even be looking at Lifetime. I pay less than half of what I would at Lifetime and can go to ANY XSport (bigs and expresses). They also have personal trainers there too.

CONCLUSION

So, in the end I think I will stay with XSport for now. Maybe I can stop at a large one on the way home from work like I used to do (poor Chewie dog will have to hold it a little longer in the day).

I hate to say it, but it comes down to Lifetime being too expensive for the amount of times I would go in a month. If it was closer to the XSport price, I probably would have signed up there tonight. But I was also turned off by the children thing… I go to the gym to work out, not have to walk around kids or hear them screaming. I know that sounds bad – I am not a kid-hater, I just need me-time working out.

I only pay $33 a month to go to ANY XSport and the cheapest single rate at Lifetime is $69 a month.

Maybe sometime I will change over, but for now, the $33 is worth a little less clean, less kids gym! Get a free pass to each gym and make your own choice though – everyone’s needs motivations are different!

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Who else is NOT a morning person?!

MikeClockLast night I looked at my Monday schedule and knew I wouldn’t be able to fit in an evening workout. A few of us had planned on going out after work for a Happy Hour farewell drink for a friend’s last day before she moves (good luck, Sonal!). So, what to do?!

I have been trying to get to the gym more lately, and in the whirlpool after my exercise on Friday afternoon, I chatted with someone who said they hit the gym around 6 times a week. I astonishingly asked, “How the heck do you have time to get there nearly every day of the week?!”

They replied that they get up at 5:30am and get it done right away! Suffering at even the thought of that, I told them that I’m definitely not a morning person and could never do that and just dismissed that crazy idea. But then they added, “Oh, but I also go to bed at 8 at night.”

Wow. That’s sure opposite of me. But last night, I said to myself, “Self… you can do it one morning so that you can get a workout in and start the week off right. Plus, so many people say they get up early and do it. Also, there’s so much talk out there that the morning is the best time to work out because it ramps up your metabolism to burn fat all day.

So, always up for trying something new (so that you don’t have to go through the pain!), I went to bed a little early last night (by 10:30) and set my alarm about 45 minutes earlier than normal.

Well, that alarm went off really soon and I said heck with it and reset it for 1/2 hour later. But as I looked at my dog, who is ALWAYS ready to go outside or go for a walk, I turned the 2nd alarm off and got my tired butt out of bed instead of getting that extra snooze time.

BillyBlanksI did 25 minutes of a workout video – old school Billy Blanks Tae Bo Advanced (check it out here. Look around for many other workouts of his on YouTube or go to Greatist.com for other free workout video ideas.) It was perfect…a decent warm up and some good cardio. Billy can hold his own against today’s workout guru’s!

Afterwards, I took Chewie for a walk to cool myself down before getting in the shower. It was really cool this morning, so it was perfect. After a homemade blueberry protein smoothie for breakfast and a shower, I headed to work. As I drove I felt like I had already gone through half my day. Yes, this whole morning thing took up about 45 minutes more than normal, but it didn’t set me back too much since I woke up early.

By the time I sat down at my desk, I already had 4,363 steps according to my Fitbit…almost halfway to my 10,000 daily step goal!

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC BY 3.0RESULTS:

Did I feel all pumped full of energy all morning? Actually, I still felt a little tired haze around me in the morning, however, I’m doing OK. But no, I’m not all hopped up on energy. (But I also can’t expect that with only doing this one day!)

Was it worth it to wake up early to do it? If I hadn’t woken up early, I wouldn’t have gotten a workout in today. Period. So, yes, it was worth it.

Will this be the turning point of me becoming a morning person and continuing it every day? I highly doubt it, but it would be nice! I can’t seem to get to bed early even when I try… but I’m willing to give it a chance. So I will try it again tomorrow morning (and hope I don’t reset my alarm then!). My want to do it just needs to outweigh my want for sleep.

What is my overall feeling about doing this after just one day? I’d love to be able to wake up early every day to work out. I could get it done and out of the way and still get home right after work to let my dog out. That way, I would know I’d get a workout in for sure. Plus, there’s a positive feeling of accomplishment that goes with it.

What advice can I give someone who is too busy to fit a workout in? We are ALL busy. As I’ve said in posts before, it comes down to how bad you want to do something – you always seem to find the time to fit in whatever is a priority to you. In my case, does my priority of sleep outweigh my priority of exercise? We will see!

Give it a try and let me know any experiences you have with morning (or any other time) exercising – or advice that might make it easier or smoother for all of us to fit a workout in.

_____________________________________________________

NOTE: I wrote this post at lunch today, but did not post it until now, and when I went out, I ended up sampling fried objects that were, but did not remotely resemble vegetables nor cheese, as well as sampling tastes of a couple cupcakes. I blame myself. So, I definitely WILL be working out tomorrow morning again!
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Zoodles!

Hi folks! What the heck?!…I can’t even remember the last post I wrote! With Winter and knee pain, I haven’t been excited about any new workouts or anything, so I have mostly been walking and keeping busy.

2015-05-06 19.44.38Since they say, 70% of health is in the kitchen and the other 30% is exercise, I have been trying to figure out what to do with the 70%. I have used a julienne peeler in the past to make zucchini noodles, often called “Zoodles”. They are totally healthy noodle-substitutes made from zucchini and you can either cook them in olive oil or eat them raw. But using that kitchen tool is sometimes difficult and dangerous – if you’re not careful, you may julienne your hand!

During one of my lunches where I often walk the Oak Brook mall for exercise, I stopped in Williams Sonoma to check out some kitchen stuff. On the way out I saw a kitchen gadget with golden light streaming from it! Was was this beautiful doohickey?!

2015-05-06 19.53.08It turned out to be the Paderno 4-Blade Spiralizer. Yes, they had a 3-blade version, but who wouldn’t want the choice of Angel Hair shredder, fine shredder, medium shredder AND “accordion slicer blades?!”  No, 3 blades would just not do.

But this thing’s base price is $49.99! That’s a little steep for a gadget that I will have to power with cranking the handle – hey, that’s exercise, right?!!!

So, time and again I walked by those doors, lustfully peeking in, hoping to get a glimpse of the item of my desire.

A month went by and finally I hit pay-dirt! I received an email from Williams-Sonoma for 20% off AND free shipping on any item. Woo-hoo! You don’t have to tell me more than once…I’m all about a good deal.

So, I ordered it and it was sitting on my porch when I got home from work this evening. Earlier, I received an email that said it had been delivered, so I stopped and bought some zucchini and a couple sweet potatoes. I’m fore-thinking like that.😉

After cutting the grass, a dog walk and a bike ride, I unpacked the Spiralizer and washed all the pieces. I chose the medium shredder blade and cranked the handle as the noodles fell from the front in their curly frenzy. Call me strange, but those spiraly veggie noodles seemed to exude happiness to me!

2015-05-06 20.07.53After shredding the sweet potatoes separately, I microwaved some of them. They were delish! I shook on a little cinnamon and they tasted so good, just like that.

I grilled some chicken breasts as I stir-fried the zoodles (zucchini) in olive oil, minced garlic and some salt, pepper, pepper flakes and about 2 or so cups of mini heirloom tomatoes cut in half (thanks for the idea Cheri!).

2015-05-06 20.56.01All I have to say are three words: easy, fun and yum!

I highly recommend this kitchen gadget! The clean-up is easy too, because it all comes apart. Best $40 I’ve spent in a long time!

You need to get one too!

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Juicers vs. Smoothies – Who is Right?

Many people consider themselves die-hard Juicers and others swear by Smoothies…but which one is best for you?

Now, making a good Smoothie with my Vitamix was one of the things I looked forward to after a run or good workout at home. So, could juicing be as good as making smoothies?

I’ll be honest right here – heck, I don’t know! The “Smoothies” say they are better because they are blending ALL the fruits and vegetables together, fiber included, so nothing goes to waste. The “Juicers” swear by their juices because they feel you can get nearly all of the vitamins and minerals, concentrated, out of fruits and veggies and not feel bloated in the process.

For Christmas my Mom gave me a gift card for Amazon.com (thanks, Mom!!!) and I have wanted a Juicer for while. So, I did some research to find the best Juicer for around $100, cashed in my gift card and waited for it to arrive.

BrevilleWhat I ended up getting was a Breville Juice Fountain Compact. It’s “patented juicing system extracts more juice and transfers less than 1.8°F of heat to maximize nutrients, enzyme and vitamin yield in its natural form.” What?! I don’t know…but it was rated one of the best in its price range.

PlugSo, this baby is sleek, with all sorts of parts (which are actually easy to assemble) and high-end strainer and it looks like it should be in an office building remodeled in a factory loft (sweet!). I mean…honestly…have you ever seen a more beautiful plug?!

I looked up all sorts of juice recipes on Pinterest as well as Googling them. Next, I went to Costco and bought a 10 lb. bag of baby carrots, a whole pineapple, a dozen apples, some blueberries, celery, tomatoes…

I was all set!

Making a long story short… I have a few best bets with juicing. Now, I’m sure these are just my own preferences, but nonetheless… I have some strong feelings. First, many recipes call for celery. Celery is good on its own and good with peanut butter or in soup… but juiced, it is REALLY overpowering. Same goes for fresh ginger! Where they say “1 knuckle” or 1″ ginger – honestly, one small 1/4″ slice will be more than enough!

What do I love about juicing? Carrots make an AWESOME, sweet base for whatever else you juice with it. It is great even alone. Pineapple and regular apples are good too. I’m pretty sure it is because all of those have a lot of natural sugar in them.

If you are looking to make V8 yourself, forgetaboutit! I found out that tomatoes are mostly water (obs!), but what I didn’t expect was that it would separate terribly if you didn’t drink it in the first minute.

CutieOne other drawback I found with juicing. What a waste of fruit and veggies! Sure, you get concentrated vitamins and enzymes, but I felt so guilty and like I was wasting money on produce as I threw all the pulp into the garbage can. I did save the tomato/celery pulp to put in the freezer, because I figured I could add it to pasta sauce. Although, if all the vitamins are taken out of it, is there any worth to that? Again… I don’t know!!! As my own rule, use carrots or other fruits as the base and add a little vegetables. “Cuties” are available in bulk at Costco, so that makes a great base too. Plus, they are cute! I love cuties! Ok, I may have gone a little overboard with them, but they are awesome. 😉

I do have to say that in my experiments, my son and I both liked carrot/pineapple/blueberry juice best. So, maybe I’m still looking for the right recipes. Following is one that I came up with that was really good!
Mike’s Favorite Juice:

  • 3 or 4 Carrots (or about 3 cups of baby carrots)
  • 2 Cara Oranges
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/4″ chunk ginger

Now, getting on the Smoothie side, I have also had some really nasty tasting ones.. add too many greens and it will taste like @&&! This is a great smoothie recipe though!

Here are my final thoughts… there is a time for juicing and there is a time for smoothies… I will enjoy juices as a “snack drink” during the day and am glad that I got the machine. But honestly, the throwing out of the pulp and detailed cleaning of all the parts of the juicer is a pain in the butt! SmoothieI would invest in a Vitamix. I feel better and more full with a good smoothie. You use the whole fruit and vegetable, it is filling and looks great in a Hulk glass!

You decide what is right for you though.

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Getting Back on Track

Bored

(How my motivation felt over the holidays)

New year, time to get back in gear!

Anyone else overdo things over the holidays? Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, Birthday…? I can’t be the only one who overate or drank and didn’t work out as much as I would’ve liked this season.

So, how can we get back on track? It’s hard! But it is doable. I have a few “hacks” that I use to at least set things up so that it is much more difficult to fail. Some of the hacks I’ve posted about before, so I will link to those, others I’ve tried more recently.

FarmersFridge1. Make meals and snacks for the week on Sunday (or whatever day works for your schedule). Here are some ideas: Some Sugar Snap Peas and a lowfat Mozzarella cheese stick. Fat free pretzels and Dijon mustard, almond or peanut butter and an apple (see this previous post), carrots and hummus. Buy larger bags of  things and divide them into those small snack baggies and set up several for the week. I buy the individual portions of hummus or guacamole to add to snacks. As I talked about before here – mason jars are perfect for making and transporting many different salads, that include the dressing. Grab ‘n go is key!

15minWorkout2. Schedule gym/exercise days ahead of time or with a friend or personal trainer. Yes, when you schedule it (or pay for it) , you tend to follow through with it. Same thing with a friend or personal trainer – if you need to meet someone, it holds you more responsible to do so. If you don’t belong to a gym, try a workout video. You can search for free ones on YouTube or purchase one such as P90X3 or T25…or Jillian Michaels. Whatever appeals to you! I have previewed some here and here for you.

Smoothie3. Find something that will keep you motivated. The last couple of years I have gotten into making healthy smoothies. Here is my favorite smoothie recipe to date. I looked forward to them after a run, so it helped motivate me to run a bit more often. Last weekend I ordered a juicing machine – I received an Amazon gift card from my mom (thanks, Mom!) for Christmas and had been thinking of getting one for awhile. Post to come once I get it!

P4. Get yourself set up on Pinterest! OMG – an endless place to save as many healthy recipes, exercises, workouts… or even crafts! Or, if you aren’t into Apps, just do a Google search for whatever recipes or workouts appeal to you. Use key words like “healthy, quick recipes”. Add certain ingredients to the key words that you like, such as “quinoa”, “chicken” or “salad”.

FitbitFlex5. Buy a Fitbit. Track how many steps you take daily or have weekend or weekday challenges with friends or family. I have a whole blog post on them here. New ones are coming out right now.

TuesTrots6. Join a community of like-minded people. My community is my “workies!” Love those peeps! Our walking group at work began as “Wednesday Walks” and switched last year to a different day, becoming “Tuesday Trotts.” And heck, if going out after helps motivate you, set it up!

PepperFaces7. Buy some produce pre-cut or pre-packaged. Don’t be afraid..if it costs a little extra to help ensure you will eat healthier, just do it. I buy pre-chopped onions all the time now…no crying, no stinky fingers, no mess…and let’s face it, it’s just a pain in general to chop or dice an onion! If you don’t use them all, just throw what’s left over after making a meal in a freezer bag, put them into the freezer and add them right to the pan with heated oil the next time you cook something. I do something similar with red, yellow and orange bell peppers – I chop them all, use what I need in a recipe, put the rest into a freezer bag and use them for other recipes, omelets or in fajitas.

Pre-washed spinach or other greens are great too!

DianaAndMaria8. Pack a workout bag with all you need and always keep it in your car. That way there’s never any excuse! “I forgot my shoes” will never be a problem again. And as soon as you get home after you use them, immediately put new clothes into that bag and put it right in front of the door you will exit the house out of next.

spark9. Read or listen to books on health and motivation. One of my favorites was the book Spark (click on link to see post). I also loved Born to Run too! Jillian Michaels’ book was also very motivating.

2014-05-25 07.08.0010. Have fun and appreciate life! Choose an exercise you like, whether it be biking, running, body weight exercises or walking. Do what you enjoy and you will WANT to do it more.

Of course there are countless other hacks you can use to get back on track. Figure out what works for you. Post a comment below to share your hacks with others!

Happy New Year!

Your’s in fun fitness, Mike!

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Let’s just talk…

I’m definitely not a very consistent blog writer. After all, I do this for fun and to hopefully inspire others. Not only are you getting one topic tonight… you are getting four! So, without a specific theme, let’s just talk about a few things on my mind…

#1:

I’m sitting at my kitchen table right now, with my leg elevated and an ice pack wrapped around my knee. I’m going for an MRI tomorrow after seeing an Ortho/Sports Med Doctor today, who took X-rays and said he thinks I have a “Medial Meniscus Tear.” (I didn’t even know I owned a meniscus!). But I tend to “push” things… maybe it’s to see how much I can handle and maybe it’s because I am sometimes not so smart. My right knee has been very stiff (uncharacteristically so) for the last couple of weeks after running and softball practice. Finally, Monday night, I was feeling pretty good – but still a little stiff in the knee. But I was tired of waiting to feel “100%”, so I went running…I was taking it very easy, mind you. As I got about a block away, I heard (even with my earbuds on) and felt a “snap!” Pain shot all around my knee and I hobbled home in disappointment at myself.

Today, after my early-morning ortho appointment, I went directly to work. I had to explain many times about why I was limping a bit (although, I tried to be really smooth around people, hoping they wouldn’t notice). I joked about maybe going for acupuncture and someone joked back about hypnosis…I was pretty much brushing it off.

Now, that’s ALWAYS been how I handle tough things, bad events and stressful situations…I joke about it. And that’s fine, because that’s what gets me through things. And maybe it’s also OK to joke now, but until a work friend, Steve, texted me, “Dude, that injury is not to be taken lightly.”, did it hit me… I may be lucky enough to walk away from this (no pun intended!) with just a small tear of a muscle or something, but I may need surgery and not be able to run for a long time, if not ever! On top of this, the first thing I asked the Ortho Dr. was if I’d be able to still play in the Ronald McDonald House Charity Softball games in a few weeks. He pretty much chuckled and said that probably isn’t the best idea.

So, until I find out what tomorrow’s MRI says, here’s what I say… When your body is telling you something, or being stiff and sore, or you feel uncommon pain, or are having difficulties doing things you were previously able to do… listen to your body! Now is not the time to prove something or push things!

#2:

I  realized that I really enjoy the camaraderie of being with my work people after hours in some sort of exercise or team. After blowing out my calf last year on the softball team (pattern?!), I was close-minded to even try it this year from the start. I was wrong…once I saw the people who were going to be involved (just like our “Tuesday Trots”), I was in! At this point, I guess I will only be on the bleachers, still cheering my teammates on, with a cup that looks like it’s a Diet Coke, but that most probably has Sangria in it. Go “Trees!” 😉
Lesson: get to know your co-workers on a laid-back level – it will make your days much better at work and may create friendships that you may not get otherwise.

#3:

I listened to an audio-book called “Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization”, by John J. Ratey, Richard Manning & David Perlmutter.

I have to admit, a tiny bit of this book read like I imagine a dental bridge procedure feels like. But that was just some of the science-based talk. The rest I really enjoyed!

Now, the opinions of the authors are by no means MY opinions. (That’s my disclaimer!) But, there were some solid take-aways from it.

The main topics that this book concentrated on were a necessity of “Food, Micro-Biology, Movement, Sleep, Mindfulness, Tribe & Biophyllia”

I’m not going to get into the minutia, so I will just give you the general take-aways:

Food – They said to eat no refined sugars in any form. Do not eat grain. Get your calories from real fats. No processed foods. Eat high Omega 3’s (eggs, salmon, nuts) – as much as you like. Veggies. Fruits are OK, but not in excess. Variety in food. Blah, blah, blah…easier said than done, Doc! In addition to the above, what I got from it was… Eat more fruits and veggies, just not too many fruits because they can be high in sugar. A variety of them is even better; and eat them in WHOLE form (not as supplements – because they say when you take the specific good stuff out of the veggies and fruits, it doesn’t work as well as when it is all together in it’s natural form.).

Tribe – (Others doing the same thing as us) – Get with your tribe more. We evolved as tribes from the early days. For protection AND for health. Being with, touching and hugging others also stimulates the chemical, Oxytocin within us. According to www.psychologytoday.com, “It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding.” Sleeping together in tribes is actually healthier and more natural than sleeping alone. The book even mentions sleeping with a pet is better than not.

Move – Do full-body exercise – cross fit is best because the variety targets all body muscles. Doing it out in nature is best – sun, hills, natural obstacles. Do it with your tribe also gives you more engagement with your tribe.

And finally,

#4:

If you love someone – tell them. If you REALLY care for someone, you will not be “too busy” for them. Call them, text them, email them – any way is fine, just so they know you are thinking of them… don’t wait until it is too late!!! Last week, my cousin lost the battle with Cancer. I’m not going to go into it, but the main thing I learned from that was, time is the ONLY true currency you, yourself owns…if something is not worth your currency…don’t do it! However, if something IS worth your time, you sure damn well better do it! Because, you never know about tomorrow. So, go tell your loved ones right now how you feel or if you appreciate them – it goes so much further than you think!

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