It’s Gotta Be Tough Being Rachael Ray

30-Minute Meals? Try 15-minute meals! Hm, I should trademark that before Rachael Ray gets a hold of it.

Yes, that’s right! I’m cooking up some super-quick meals. My husband is putting together a fitness product for his new website, Fit in a Hurry. I’ve already started using his workouts, and let me tell ya, my legs are pissed at me for the 90 jump squats I did yesterday.

Part of his fitness product is quick and easy meal ideas. Enter the Fitness Wife. I’m all about quick and eay. If it’s more than 5 ingredients, I ain’t cooking it. Unless I’m in a fancy mood, I might cook something with 10 ingredients in it. But when the ingredients list is longer than 1 page, forget about it!

So my husband asks me, “Can I record you cooking dinner tonight for my product?”

Me: “Um…sure?”

Forget the fact that I had never even cooked that meal before, my kitchen is small and is a mess. Why not?

Let me tell ya, I have so much more respect for the Rachael Rays and Giada De Laurentiis’s of the world now. Cooking while talking – and sounding somewhat intelligent and composed – while chopping and staying organized is not an easy task.

8 Reasons It’s Gotta Be Tough Being Rachael Ray

  1. It’s gotta be tough having to say “extra virgin olive oil.” Hence “EVOO”. Why don’t we acronym-ize everything? “Place the WCKSF on a plate and season with CBP and KS. Drizzle some FSLJ and press into TSS.” 10 bucks to anyone who can translate that one.
  2. There aren’t enough vowels in the alphabet to create variations on existing words. Case in point: “YUM-O”. Why not “YUM-A,” “YUM-I,” or “YUM-U”? Quit discriminating the other vowels!
  3. “How to appropriately use hand gestures while talking” class must have been tough. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually point to myself with my thumb every time I say “I”.
  4. Being on the air after Giada De Laurentiis. The Food Network loses about half its male audience when her show ends. At least she won the Iron Chef Challenge!
  5. Having the public criticize my weight. I have a hard enough time criticizing my own weight, let alone having everyone else do it for me!
  6. Having to figure out how to talk about my Italian grandfather from the upstate New York mountains in every single episode. Hm, my great-great-great grandfather was Spanish, and I used to have cousins in the mountains of Baguio City, Philippines. Does that count?
  7. Typical Day: Wake up, whip up a 30-minute meal at the studio, stop by the magazine and give them a recipe for this month’s issue, travel to some random place like Ashland, Oregon and spend $40 in a day, go interview Michael J. Fox and Hulk Hogan and cook a meal with them, formulate a new all-natural dog food recipe, go home and do it all over again the next day!
  8. The cooking while talking thing. Did I mention how hard that is?

Seriously though, all joking aside, I love Rachael Ray. Here’s a woman with no formal cooking training (like me!) who ran with her passion and became a wild success! She has her cooking show, a talk show, magazines, books, more TV shows, and even an all-natural dog food line. She’s like the Oprah of the cooking world! If I became half as successful as her, I certainly wouldn’t be complaning!

So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a snippet of my cooking show fiasco. Enjoy!

And keep an eye on Fit in a Hurry for some quick home and office workouts and some fast and easy meal ideas!

The Recession Slim-Down to Bulk-Up Plan

dollar_sami-keinanenRecession this, recession that. Everything is about this darned recession lately! Frankly, I try not to dwell on it, but I have to admit that sometimes – just sometimes – I catch myself thinking twice before purchasing something because I should be saving money during “these hard times.”

Today, for instance, I was standing in line at the Starbucks stand in my building, eyeing the pumpkin loaf. Mmmm, pumpkin loaf… As I unzipped my wallet and reached for the dollar bills, my hand stopped, and the thought flashed through my head, I really should save my money.

Like the $1.45 was that significant, since I can honestly say I never purchase the pastries out of the Starbucks case (when I’m at work, at least. *wink*) But then it occurred to me: Hm, this recession thing just might work to my advantage in some ways.

As Leo Babauta would say in his ever-popular uber-blog, Zenhabits.net, “Less is more.” Here are ten ways you can save money during these “tough economic times” while improving and simplifying your life for the better, and maybe even while getting healthier and happier.

1. Cancel your cable. If you’re anything like I was, you’re wasting too much precious time watching celebrity reality shows on VH1 or reruns of Sex and the City. Save yourself 50 to 100 bucks a month, and save your brain from turning to mush. Aren’t there better things you could be doing with your time?

2. Eat more veggies. Eat less meat (the average person usually needs no more than 4-6oz. per meal) and replace it with tons and tons of vegetables! I got a bunch of organic kale for less than $1 the other day, and splurged on exotic veggies like baby bok choy and chayote squash for mere pennies too! Experiment with different kinds, and you won’t get bored. Head down to your local farmers’ market or Asian market and be adventurous!

3. Walk, take the bus, or bike. Save cash on gas, save the earth from your car’s emissions, and save yourself the stress. Instead, get some exercise or read a good book on the bus.

4. Cancel your newspaper subscription. What are you absorbing into your brain on a daily basis? The news is full of cynical, pointless, and depressing stories that only make you believe the world is a horrible place, and we’re all going to hell in a handbasket, so why even try. Try going on a media fast, and you’ll find that you just might be more energized. If you’re the type who absolutely has to know everything that’s going on, try a modified version: Allow yourself to skim the homepage of a news website, but allow yourself to only click on links to positive stories.

5. Learn to cook. The other day I made a healthy, fulfilling meal for about $5 per person: grilled organic free-range chicken in a homemade Asian-inspired sauce, steamed chayote squash, and brown rice. Cooking is so much cheaper than eating out, and you’ll save yourself the artificial ingredients, saturated fat, and sodium you’d get at a restaurant.

6. Just be. What is the cheapest possible form of entertainment? Doing nothing. What do you mean, Julie? How can I do nothing? Sit in a quiet place – somewhere in nature or even your favorite arm chair will do nicely – close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Pay attention to your breathing, quiet your mind, and just be. That’s right – for literally $0 you can reduce stress in your life, get some good oxygen circulating through your body, and get to know yourself!

7. Cut the venti caramel macchiato. Drink tea. Venti caramel macchiato: $4.00, 300 calories, 39 grams of sugar, caffeine jitters. Tall unsweetened green tea: $0.45, 0 calories, antioxidants, minimal caffeine. ‘Nuff said.

8. Play. Instead of paying an arm and a leg at the movie theater to sit in a dark room and not talk to your family or significant other, why not spend some quality time with them by playing in the park, playing a board game, or going for a walk?

9. Get a library card. It’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord for your mind – and it’s all FREE FREE FREE! Take advantage of your local library and all the free knowledge, adventures, romance, and laughs that live in its books.

10. Volunteer. Head down to your local homeless shelter, elementary school, or check out United Way for a volunteer opportunity that excites you. In “this economy”, rather than focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have, give thanks for it, and give it freely – whether it’s your time or your money. It’ll come back to you tenfold in ways that you don’t expect.

There you have it – my “Recession Slim-Down to Bulk-Up Plan.” The recession is a great excuse to slim down on things that waste your time or aren’t good for you or the environment, and bulk up on things that feed your mind, body, and spirit.

How are you slimming down to bulk up?

Photo credit: Sami Keinanen

Celery vs. Burrito: Can Real Food Really Taste Any Good?

Matthew McVickar
photo credit: Matthew McVickar

In this corner, nutritious but bland, fibrous but tasteless, hailing all the way from your local farmer’s market…it’s green. It’s healthy…CELERY!

Stu Spivack
photo credit: Stu Spivack

And in the other corner, filling but fattening, satiating but engorging, from the Mexican joint around the corner…it’s plump. It’s comforting…BURRITO!

Let’s Get Ready to Rummmblllle!

I was on my way to work the other day and passed a huge Taco Del Mar billboard. A giant burrito jumped out at me from the sign, in all its ooey, gooey glory – spicy chicken, tangy pico de gallo, fluffy Mexican rice, all of it brought together in one big symphony by melty, gooey cheesy goodness.

And in big letters next to this image that made my arteries scream in delightful pain: “Because celery tastes like celery.”

Hm. Anyone in their right mind would of course choose this handsome blasphemous ode to Mexican cuisine over stringy, bland celery, right?

The more I ate it, the more I craved it

It was not long ago – maybe about 6 years – that I basked in the glories of fast food almost daily. I could down a Whopper, medium fries, and Coke in about twenty minutes. I could gobble up a Mexican Pizza, two chicken soft tacos, Mexi-fries, and a Sprite in just as much time.

The more I ate it, the more I craved it. The more my mouth would water when I saw billboards like this one.

Now, I see this billboard, and the choice isn’t as obvious as it would have been back then – burrito or celery?

Okay, I’d be lying if I said that my preferences are leaning heavily in the celery’s corner of the ring. Yes, if I were stuck on a desserted island and had a stalk of celery and a juicy burrito in front of me, it would probably take about 0.2 seconds for me to reach for the burrito.

But on some days, in the real world and not in some hypothetical Gilligan’s Island/Lost scenario, I would actually choose the celery.

Case in point: My husband and I were watching the Super Bowl. What goes hand-in-hand with Super Bowl viewing? Salty snacks! Did I go buy a bag of potato chips? Nope! I made kale chips!

That’s right, people, KALE chips. A lot of you are probably saying, “What the f**k is kale?”

That Blonde Girl
photo credit: That Blonde Girl

Often used simply as a garnish, kale is a dark leafy green, high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamins K and C, manganese, and calcium, and is a great source of fiber and antioxidants. Tough when raw, great when steamed, and even greater when baked with some kosher salt sprinkled on top.

Ask that girl from 6 years ago, whose idea of a vegetable was a french fry, and she’d tell you she’d rather eat foot fungus than something like kale chips. No thank you, I’m not “granola” like that, she’d say.

Your Preferences Just Might Change

Okay, so what’s my point? My point is that your preferences change, your tastes change as you become more adjusted to eating “real” food. Real food has nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in it. Real food has protein, fiber, and water in it.

The stuff on that billboard may look like real food, may smell like real food, but when it comes down to it, it’s just not real food. The highly processed, overly-saturated-fat-laden foods from fast food joints and the inner aisles of your grocery stores are empty calories. Through all the processing, the foods have been stripped of much of their nutritional value.

I’m in the middle of a book called Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the largest nutrition school in the country. He describes it like this: Your body tells you “I’m hungry. I need nutritients.” So you reach for the burrito. You eat the burrito. Your stomach is full, but your body is still lacking the nutrients it craved. So it tells you it needs more nutrients by sending you the craving signal. So you reach for the burrito again. But it’s still not giving your body the nutrients it needs. So you reach for it again. And again. And again.

Your body is screaming for nutrients, but you’re feeding it with nutrient-deficient foods.

As I began incorporating real food into my life, I began enjoying things I never would have before – the tartness of plain yogurt, the natural sweetness of carrots, the roughness of real, whole oats, and yes, the crisp stringiness of celery.

Give it a shot – try adding some real food to your life. I think you’ll find down the road that kale – and even celery – shouldn’t be dismissed so quickly.

And, because I know some of you will ask, here is my recipe for kale chips, slightly modified from a recipe on the Integrative Nutrition website:

Kale Chips

1 to 2 bunches of kale
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Remove kale from the thick part of the stalk, leaving the leaves in big pieces.

Place a little bit of olive oil in a bowl, dip your fingers in it, and rub a light coat of oil on both sides of each leaf.

Place in single layer on baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes or until it starts to turn a bit brown.

Turn leaves over and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it because it burns very quickly!

Sprinkle lightly with salt and any other seasoning your heart desires! (Cayenne, cumin, curry powder, or just pepper would do nicely. May favorite is just plain old salt.)

This makes for a nice, crispy, slighly salty, and healthy snack! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Enjoy!

National Law Would Require Nutritional Information at Chain Restaurants

fast-food

It amazes me sometimes how a lot of people are totally clueless when it comes to what they’re putting in their bodies. My last post, for instance, demonstrated the evils of fast food, but so many people still eat that crap on a regular basis.

I think this population falls into three general categories: 1) Those that know what they’re doing but don’t care, 2) those that know but don’t think it really matters (i.e. “The chemicals are good for my immune system”), and 3) those that don’t know.

Of all of these, it’s those in #1 that are the hardest to “convert” to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. Those in #2 are doable, but it might take shock factor like a day watching Dr. Oz parade around dead, diseased body organs on Oprah. Those in #3 are the ones that need the most attention, and those that I frankly feel the most compassion for.

Somehow, though, I don’t think it would be taken very well if I went up behind them in the McDonald’s checkout line and smacked them upside the head, or did a running interception of their fish ‘n chips, clam chowder, and Coke before it touched down on their table.

I’d love to be able to educate or at least make all these people aware of what’s really in their food. But alas, I’m only one person, and I can only do so much.

So I was very pleased when I was recently in New York eating at Hard Rock Cafe and noticed that the nutritional information for every single item was printed on the menu. My co-worker and I sat down, perused the menu, and found that our selections were influenced by the calories, fats, proteins, carbs, etc. instead of solely by what our cravings were compelling us to to eat.

The salads that naturally many people would assume are healthy just because they’re salads, were clearly marked as having way more calories and fats than things like pulled pork sandwiches – surprising to most people that don’t realize that Caesar salads are not health food.

Btw-the pulled pork sandwich wasn’t bad, as long as you get the BBQ sauce on the side and side salad instead of fries, with vinaigrette dressing on the side. Even better if you can just ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Anyway, I noticed all the big chains printed the nutritional info right on the menus. Even Starbucks clearly marked the little signs in front of the espresso brownies and pumpkin loaves.

Finally, I thought. People will have a little more awareness of what they’re actually eating.

I discovered later that this was the result of a law that was passed in New York which requires caloric information to be disclosed on chain restaurant menus. Some have gone farther and are disclosing detailed nutritional information as well. California was the first to pass a state-wide law that will require calorie counts for standard dishes to be disclosed on menus and menu boards as of July 1st. (Go Arnold!)

menuApparently a similar law was passed in Seattle, but either I’m totally oblivious or they haven’t begun enforcing it yet because I haven’t really seen it, besides at one or two restaurants. (Of those of you in Seattle, have you seen this happening? And if you’re not in Seattle, does your state, city, or county have a similar law?)

There is currently no national law that regulates whether chain restaurants disclose nutritional information, let alone standards around how it is disclosed. The result is a “patchwork” of different laws and rules, ultimately confusing the consumer. Hence, Congress is considering passing the “LEAN (Labeling Education And Nutrition) Act.”

According to the Coalition for Responsible Nutrition Information, the LEAN Act “would require restaurants, grocery stores and other food service establishments that serve prepared foods and have 20 or more locations to disclose in writing calories contained in each menu item directly on the menu, menu board or in designated alternative ways, such as a menu insert or a sign directly next to the menu board.”

I believe the law would also require more detailed nutritional information such as fats, trans fats, sodium, carbs, protein, etc.

It seems more and more people are concerned about what they’re putting into their bodies. This act is intended to help mitigate the obesity epidemic. While this probably won’t help the people in Category #1 (know but don’t care) or Category #2 (know but don’t think it matters), it’ll hopefully convert those in Category #3 (just don’t know) to my category: People who are becoming more and more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies and want to make smart decisions.

Would seeing detailed nutritional information on restaurant menus change the way you order?

The Wonderfully Selfish Act of Giving

What a beautiful weekend. Mother Nature has blessed the Pacific Northwest with something very rare for this time of year – sun and blue skies. My husband and I made our way south to the Oregon Coast for a fun-filled beach weekend with friends. There’s nothing like the view of the vast, blue open sea with a glowing, orange horizon to fill you with inspiration and complete awe at the miracle of life and all the possibilities it brings.

Oregon Coast Moon

Oregon Coast Night

Something about the crisp ocean air and starry skies reminds me that life is so special. Why live life without doing something that matters to you? So many of us go to work every day and go through the motions to get a check at the end of the month. It’s a noble thing to work to provide for your loved ones. But sometimes, do you ever think there’s got to be more?

I’m one of those optimistic thinkers that believes there is. Why can’t I support my family and fulfill my own spirit by doing something that has meaning to me? Something that keeps me alive?

Today we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s someone who was passionate, who stood for something he believed in with his whole being. Who believed in something that was bigger than he was and was willing to pay the ultimate price to see the realization of his dream.

What do you believe in?

I’m fortunate enough to work at a large company that had a special celebratory event commemorating Dr. King, and our keynote speaker echoed this concept. You might remember this guy. He played basketball for some team in L.A. back in the day.

Magic Johnson

In the words of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, “The check won’t wake you up in the morning.” After retiring from the NBA, Magic Johnson could very well have lived the rest of his life on a sunny beach in the Bahamas. Instead, he decided to start the Magic Johnson Foundation, which addresses the health, educational, and social needs of inner-city communities. He saw a need and is passionate about fulfilling it.

What need do you see?

Why not take your strengths (as defined by Marcus Buckingham as something you look forward to doing, lose track of time doing, are usually successful at doing, and feel energized by after doing) and apply those strengths to promoting a cause you believe in? You don’t have to quit your job to do it; volunteer even just a couple hours a month.

Do you love planning parties for your friends? Why not volunteer to help coordinate an event for an organization like the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation? You get to have fun picking out table centerpieces and planning logistics, and help kids with cancer and their families. Do you love being outdoors? Why not volunteer to help clean up a local park or beach? You can enjoy the scenery and make it more beautiful at the same time.

Me? I believe in proactively taking responsibility for your own health. “Pay” for your health now by buying and eating the right foods, exercising, and investing in your mind and spirit, rather than paying for it later in healthcare costs, prescription drugs, and the frustration that your body can’t keep up with you. I believe that there are too many people out there who don’t do this because they don’t know any better. They frankly don’t know what they’re doing to themselves. And in turn, they teach their own bad habits to their children.

I believe the children are our future. (Sorry, I had to quote Whitney Houston…I know that song is in your head now.) Let’s teach them healthy habits at a young age.

So a while back, I decided to take what I love to do (write), and volunteer my writing time and skills to Treeswing, a Pacific Northwest organization that promotes healthy, active lifestlyes in children and their families. I occasionally write for their newsletter and website. It’s selfish in that I get to do what I love and get more experience doing it, but I’m also contributing to an awesome cause at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.

It doesn’t have to take much time. All you have to do is give what you can. Give a few minutes here and there, and if it’s doing what you love, how can you lose? I firmly believe that the more you freely give, the more the universe will return to you in ways you never expected.

There are plenty of organizations out there that are desparate for a helping hand. Check out United Way to find a volunteer opportunity that excites you.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

What matters to you?

P.S. Today I officially started my husband’s Transformation Challenge program. My plan is to blog regularly about the experience. I’m thinking I’ll create a separate page for those blogs. Stay tuned.

Everyone Makes A Mistake Every Now and Then

It happens all the time – newspapers post corrections to stories that contained an error in a previous edition.  Granted, it’s usually in very small print on the back page, in the bottom left-hand corner where no one ever looks.  I’ll be (wo)man enough to call out my error in broad daylight. 

I was at the gym again, and decided that because of the higher reps in today’s workout, I could use the 24-pound Power Blocks in the women’s fitness area.  I reserve myself a bench, grab the Power Blocks, and start my front squats.  Around the 5th rep, something new about two feet to the left of the dumbell rack catches my eye. 

What is that I see?  Another set of Power Blocks?

Oh it is, isn’t it?  I finish my set, walk over to them, and discover that my hunch is correct – they’re 60-pound Power Blocks.

Oooh, I feel so sheepish. 

<a href=
photo credit: chalkie_colour_circles

 Alas, I stand corrected and hereby rescind the remarks I made on my last post.  So I didn’t notice those nifty new Power Blocks yesterday.  I must have been too engrossed in the dramatic episode I concocted in my head to even notice. 

<Insert unnamed health club here>, as well as that nice, young trainer behind the fitness desk, deserve my heartfelt apologies.  They haven’t turned their backs on their duty to enable women to lift heavier weights.

Brownie points have officially been earned back.

(Another) UPDATE: Women Who Lift Heavy Unite!

I’ll be honest – it’s been a while since I set foot in a gym. Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working out, I’ve just be doing it at home. Since my husband bought me some cute workout clothes for Christmas, I decided I should put them to use and go to the gym. (When I work out at home, I’m usually in some Felix the Cat boxers and an over-sized t-shirt from some work event that I would never be caught wearing in public.)

So I get to the gym, change by my usual locker, and head down to the women’s fitness area. I’m doing the 15-minute workouts, which consist of a very quick circuit with very limited rest. So I need everything within close vicinity and easy to access. As you might recall from my original Women Who Lift Heavy UNITE! post and the first update to this saga, the main workout floor is usually overflowing with testosterone-laden Arnold-wannabes.  And everything is so spread out and machines are high in demand, it’s just a pain to hog a bunch of weights AND a machine for my circuit.  So I go to the women’s fitness area which is much less crowded and circuit-friendly.

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Umm, what am I supposed to do with these tiny weights? (photo credit:rick's old photos)

I get to the women’s fitness area, reserve myself a bench, and head over to the weight rack. Hmmm…5’s, 10’s, 15’s, 20’s…20’s…20’s…Where did my 30’s and 40’s go?

THEY’RE GONE! [dun dun DUUUNNNNN]

Oh, young trainer behind the fitness desk, you’ve failed me!  Two months ago when I asked you to kindly put heavier weights in the women’s fitness area, you made every effort to fulfill my request, leading me to believe that you understood my plight!  And now, behold, you’ve receded into the unforsaken mindset that women wouldn’t lift anything more than 20 pounds. 

<Insert unnamed health club here> has officially lost the brownie points they earned with me.

I don’t know what’s more upsetting: 1) that they realized that no one was using them in my absence so decided to remove them because they don’t believe they should enable women to lift heavy, or 2) that no one else was using them.

Either way, I turned around, threw my towel over my shoulder, and left the women’s fitness area in disgust.  If that young trainer were standing in front of me, he would have gotten a sharp ponytail wisp in the face.

I made my way down to the big workout floor, past the women on the ellipticals and stairmasters, and joined the men in their evening ritual of grunting and iron pumping.  The two other women in the room were quietly pushing through their sets amidst the macho-fest surrounding them.

Stand proud, sisters.  Stand proud.

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photo credit: Pranav Singh

Time to Change It Up and Get My 15 Minutes of Fitness

15-minutes

Whew!  Just got done working out.  That was one of the toughest 15 minutes I’ve ever lived through.

I’m starting a new program by who else – my husband.  (Why would I train with anyone else?)  It’s merely 15 minutes.  But let me tell you, it’s a tough 15 minutes.  He’s big on getting fit without spending hours in the gym.  He’s always told me that you should never have to spend more than an hour there.  My average workout time is around half an hour – 45 minutes if I throw in some cardio intervals.  One hour max when I do his Saturday morning fitcamps.

But this time, I’m getting it done in 15 minutes, and at home nonetheless.  Although I do need to go to the gym once in a while to sport my cute new workout clothes.  My husband got me a really cute jacket from Lululemon and some reversible workout pants for Christmas.  Yes! 2 in 1!(Yes, I’m one of THOSE people…you know, the ones who wear color-coordinated outfits to the gym.  But I DON”T put on makeup to go to the gym, unlike some people I know.  That’s just ridiculous if you ask me.) 

Anyway, today we used resistance bands connected to the door and a sandbag.  That’s it – nothing fancy.  Who said you need fancy equipment to get fit?  He has a couple “quick fix” workouts posted on his website, http://www.element5fitness.com.  Scroll about halfway down, and they’re posted on the right-hand side.

I’m also putting more focus on my nutrition again.  (Yes, during the holidays I did let myself indulge a little bit.)  One of my goals for this year is to educate myself more on nutrition for healthy living.  I want to combine one of my passions – yummy food – with eating in a way that supports a healthy, fit lifestyle without sacrificing the God-given gift of taste and occasional, planned indulgence (i.e. indulgence that doesn’t take advantage of an undisciplined mind).  Who says you can’t have it all? 🙂

I’d love to hear from you if you’re changing things up with the New Year as well!  There’s nothing like change to get you motivated and moving again!

What’s the number for the gym? I’m calling in sick!

I’m a fairly healthy person.  I eat well (usually), I take my multi, I drink my superfood antioxidant drink, I exercise, and I meditate regularly.  I don’t get sick very often.  But last week, it happened – I got taken hostage by a head cold.

When I do get sick, I get really wimpy.  I stay home from work, I eat chicken  noodle soup, I drink gallons of echinacea tea, and I sleep to the humming sounds of my lovely humidifier. 

So when it comes to the daily dilemma, “Should I work out?”, I usually give that an “Ummm, I don’t think so!”  How could I possibly think about putting forth any physical exertion when I have to blow my nose every 3 minutes?  Oh no, I must get some rest.

Funny thing is, I usually feel worse after lying in bed all day versus when I’m up and around doing stuff.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m taking my mind off how miserable I feel, or if getting the juices flowing actually does help.  It’s probably a combination of the two.

My husband used to be the ultimate in whining like a baby while he’s sick.  I have to give him credit for being much better at that now though.  So I recently asked him if it’s okay to work out when you’re sick. 

When I asked him this, I almost cringed as I waited for the answer because I knew if I didn’t get the answer I wanted, I wouldn’t have an excuse anymore for being lazy and sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself.

His answer was basically “it depends.”

“It depends on what?”  I asked. 

“If it’s just a cold, it should be fine.  There’s tons of information on that.  You should look it up,” he said.

Great, he’s doing this whole “you would do yourself well by researching this topic yourself” thing, I thought to myself.  I guess I’ll learn something.

Okay, okay.  So I looked it up myself, and here’s a quick test to determine if you should work out while you’re sick.  Ask yourself the following question:

Are my symptoms above or below the neck?

  • If it’s above the neck – runny/stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat – it’s okay to do a moderate workout.
  • If it’s below the neck – chest congestion, upset stomach, fever, body aches/chills, cough – you should take a temporary hiatus from the gym.

Dammit.  That means I should have gotten in a moderate workout at home last week while I had my cold.  (I still think it’s good I stayed away from the gym, otherwise I would have been spreading the love by sneezing all over the equipment.) 

Even if it’s a brisk walk or doing a quick circuit to some fun music, moving around will get your circulation going, lift your spirits, and might help clear up some of the congestion.

As all the experts say, however, listen to your body.  If you start hacking up a lung or sneezing like one of Snow White’s roommates, turn it down a notch and take it easy.  But make sure you’re being honest with yourself and not just making excuses.  Drink more water than you normally do, and get plenty of sleep. 

And I highly recommend a cup of hot tea, a warm blanket, and a Friends marathon.  Laughter is a great cure for the winter cold blues.

Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01097
http://www.ehow.com/how_6950_exercise-sick.html
http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/should-i-exercise-while-sick/e75e72e50d803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/fitness/fitness.coaches/chris.freytag/

Everything Is a Gift – Even the Pimple on My Chin

I hate it when people ask me, “What are you grateful for?”  Not because I’m not grateful for anything, but because there truly are so many things – yes, including the pimple on my chin.  (More on that crazy statement later.)

It’s hard to pinpoint everything that I’m grateful for.  I feel like if I limit myself to one list that fits on a piece of paper (or on a blog post of a reasonable length) I’m not hitting on everything that’s worthy of being called out.

Peruse some of the other blogs out there that were posted today and over the past few days, and you’ll find many a “What I’m Grateful For” posts, most of which list “my family, my friends, my home, my health, etc.”

I by no means discredit any of these things because they are definitely some of the most important things in life.  But there are two issues I have with these types of list.

Firstly, some people call out only those things that they view as being great because they compare them to things that they view as not-so-great.

For example, one of my friends hates her job.  You probably won’t find “I’m thankful for my job” on her list. 

But if she were to really step back and look at her situation, she’d realize that she should be thankful for her job 1) because she has one, 2) because she has actually met some interesting people there, and 3) because the situation she is in has been the trigger for her to start re-evaluating her career so she can finally figure out what she truly enjoys.

There is always something to be grateful for in any situation.  Every adversity or failure carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Secondly, some people overlook some of the simple, yet quite significant things in life.

Life is a series of events.  Some events seem more significant than others, but they’re all events that shape you into who you are.  I’m a true believer that we’re all connected and that everything is a gift.  I believe that everything and everyone we encounter touches our lives whether we like it or not, and we in turn touch other lives whether we like it or not.

The beautiful sunrise on the way to work, although at face value might seem insignificant and irrelevant, might put me in a better mood, and so when I get to work I smile at the stranger passing in the hall, which makes his day a little brighter, so he treats his co-worker amicably, so she in turn does her job better that day which allows her company to service their customers better, so their customers are in a better mood and treat their spouses better, and so on and so forth.

You see, it all matters.  Everything is a gift.

This is why I sometimes feel overwhelmed when people ask me what I’m grateful for.  There is so much. 

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and to jump on the “What are you grateful for?” blogging bandwagon, I’ll attempt to list the first five that pop into my head, in no particular order.  I’ll group together the obvious ones in #1.

  1. I’m thankful for a) my husband for supporting me and all my strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, b) my family and friends for being there and being themselves, c) my health because it allows me to be me and pursue my dreams, d) my job for for allowing me to grow as a person and expand my skills and comfort zone, e) my home for sheltering me and my husband and for being a place of sanctuary.
  2. I’m thankful for my car because it reminds me that I am blessed with financial security and abundance.  I’m thankful that I have the choice to ride in a car, take the bus, or walk.  I’m also thankful for the seat warmers because my butt likes to be toasty warm in the morning.
  3. I’m thankful for the huge pimple that is currently on my chin.  It has reminded me to drink more water which will be good for my overall health, to take my fish oils which will help with my hair, skin, heart, and brain health, and to start eating more cleanly again.  This pimple will help me stay healthy!
  4. I’m thankful for my crazy dog, who makes me smile every single day. 
  5. I’m thankful for the argument I had with my husband last weekend when I asked him to turn the car around because I forgot something at home.  It helped us both to learn to be more patient with each other and to think before reacting and lashing out at each other.  And even though it will more than likely happen again, it might help us down the road when the argument isn’t quite as petty.
  6. I’m thankful for each of you, who allow me to do what I love – write about stuff I care about and that I think might be helpful for others – who actually listen to what I have to say, and who allow me to share a piece of myself with you.  You’ve truly been a part of my growth and happiness these past couple of months.  I only hope that I’ve impacted you in even a minute way.

Okay, I lied.  I know that was 6 and not 5.  I just couldn’t stop at 5!  There are so many more, but I would have to make this a book if I listed them all.

As do many of the other blogs, I too challenge you to write down what you’re thankful for.  You might be surprised how many you can come up with if you really let down your guard and open yourself up to the possibility that everything is in some way a blessing.

Here’s to you and yours this Thanksgiving.  May we all be truly grateful!