Friday, November 21, 2014

Airport Blinders

It's the Friday before Thanksgiving and I've set this post to auto load. I'm driving across the country with my two kids and sister in tow. Someone please help me avoid holiday travel hell! Why are you already singing Jingle Bells?!

Last week when I traveled to Brockport, New York (Quick shout out to my great group there: Beth, Emily, Kevin, Katie, Josh, Chris, and Nate!) I started thinking about how hard it is to get through the airport without feeling like Louie (only watch this if you're okay with some offensive material and are not around your kids....Thanks Sarrah!).
So, here are a few quick tips for those of you flying today.

Ways to Avoid Eating Junk at the Airport
  • Douse yourself in a disgusting smelling perfume so that you can't smell the aroma of all of the food court food around you
  • Wear blinders like horses do so that you cannot see anything that is not directly in front of you (Skymall should totally sell these! See my post next Thursday about Skymall and Thanksgiving Day shopping.)
  • Eat a ton of rice and beans before you head out for your flight so that you cannot possibly be full in the airport
  • Pack your own snacks. Unlike water, they don't steal those at security check points and it will also save you a lot of money. Just think $5 M&M bag....Yikes!
  • Take a refillable water bottle with you that you can fill up on the other side of security. Avoid lots of unnecessary calories consumed by drinking and money on purchasing them. Remember, you can always get a small free soda on the flight
  • Keep your hands busy by doing crosswords, Sudoku, knitting (if they allow those needles through), etc because busy hands don't feel tempted to fill the mouth
  • Remember that the airport food court does not sell any food that you can't get somewhere else for less and when you won't be sitting for hours on end
  • If you have to eat there, choose mindfully and if all else fails.....
  • "Workout" at the airport! Look at what I found (and used) at the Philadelphia Airport!
These were free to use and I know I need a new phone so I can snap far better photos!
For more fun blog posts about air travel, read these:
Fit is a Feminist Issue, lots of articles about travel
The Next Delusion, the Knee Defender

Are you going anywhere for the holidays?
By air or by car?
Would you travel half way across the country with two little kids under age 4?
How do you feel about stores selling holiday gear way before the next holiday is even over?
How do you avoid eating at the airport?
Would you ride one of those bikes while waiting for a flight?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Free Quotes in Minutes

Another Thursday of word vomit or is it brain vomit since the words are not vomiting out of my head like these random thoughts are? Either way, I'd like to join a little group here and announce that my future Thursday posts will be "inspired" by Amanda and her ingenious Think Out Loud Thursday campaign. Linked here:
Thinking-Out-Loud2
I was first brought to the attention of Amanda(http://www.runningwithspoons.com/thinking-out-loud/) by one of my new favorite bloggers, Charlotte at Commitness to Fitness (http://commitnesstofitness.com/) and her Think Out Loud Thursday posts. Until I decided to go ahead and try them, I wasn't convinced it was going to stick, but now it gives me a great something to do with all of my random bits of pastel card notes that don't fit anywhere else during the week. And keeps them from piling up too. Check them both out, they are amazing ladies and Yes, Charlotte did make a "blog guest" appearance at my last workshop. Her bit on food labels was just too perfect not to share!

In continuation of my random spew here today I thought I would enlighten you on a topic that I find to be both intriguing and ridiculous at the same time.

Health Insurance!

Insurance: Scam or Unhappy Necessity?
As this is being posted I am having my first full-on physical in about 6 years, not counting annuals and when I was pregnant both times. This is one of three "scheduled posts" I have for this week because of travel etc. So, I have no idea what the outcome of this physical will be, but I do know one thing for sure: It better not cost me one damned cent! Now, I'm neither here nor there about "Obama Care" because I don't fully understand (and I don't think anyone does yet) what all the good or bad to come out of this system will be. But I do know that if I pay $98.90/month for 12 months for something, then someone needs to figure out what I was paying for. I think the whole idea of insurance is ludicrous because, for someone who is not sick very often, where is my money going? Am I paying for other people to go to the doctor? If so, what is their insurance paying for? Why would we not just reduce all the costs so that when you have to go to the doctor you can afford to, but if you don't have to go, you just keep your money and spend it on other things.

I feel like I'm paying someone's salary who is not doing a whole lot (sorry insurance industry people). Are doctors not seeing enough people each day to be able to reasonably live on what they could charge if they charged everyone directly? Are insurance companies not just another middle man? If you're going to mandate anything, just mandate the pricing structure so that no one gets charged out of healthy living and move on with it. It's kind of like food to me. Do I buy insurance to make sure that the food will be there fore me when I need it or do I just pay for the food and the farmers grow it? Makes sense to me, but maybe I'm missing something here all together. Or maybe I'm a socialist or a communist or however that works. I didn't pay attention very well in government.

Either way, I know it's not a perfect system, but when I was previously married I had military insurance. Say what you will about the wait times etc, but when I needed shit, I got it. And it didn't cost me a thing because I already paid for it in my taxes. I know there are some Canadians that read this and I had some friends from GB when in college. They all have enjoyed (to some extent) their government run health care. I even watched Ricki Lake's documentary (http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/) that showed how much better it is in other European countries in regards to prenatal and postpartum care with government insurance. All I'm asking is that my insurance company contacts my doctor (she's new to me and I'm not sure if I will like her or not) and makes sure that whomever in her office is in charge of billing codes everything correctly for my $1200 physical. Thanks.

Do you have insurance or are you planning to pay the penalty instead?
Do you know how much the penalty is for not having insurance?
How often do you go to the doctor?
Do you like your doctor?
How did you find your doctor?
Would you buy into government run health care?

PS - I'm sorry for the pasted in links.
Blogger was not allowing me to link things in this post the day I wrote this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Balance

Most people know all about the two main components of a fitness program: Cardio and Strength Training. At least that's what we'll call them for now. However, those of us in the fitness industry know that it goes far beyond running on a treadmill and lifting some weights. You need to have flexibility, which is totally different than just sitting there trying to touch your toes for 10 seconds and jumping around while shaking your arms and legs to feel "limbered-up". I have totally seen people doing that at the gym and you know who you are! It also includes stability and balance training and for a select few of us, agility training. So, this week, let's talk about balance and your ADL's.

I am very glad to see that a Google search of "ADL's" comes back with a majority of links to information regarding Activities of Daily Living instead of something random to misinform the public. There was also one link to the Anti-Defamation League, but that's not where we're headed today. So, what is an activity of daily living? It's anything that you do daily to go about your day. So:
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Oral Care
  • Toileting
  • Transferring
  • Walking
  • Climbing Stairs
  • Eating
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Using the Phone
  • Housework
  • Laundry
  • Driving
  • Computer Work
  • Childcare
  • Gardening/Outdoor Work
Etc, etc, etc. Your list may look totally different than my list, but this is a sample (with a few added) that I found online.

The point is that as we grow older (Yes, I know I'm only 34, but I don't want to wait until I'm 64 to prepare for this) we lose all sorts of physical fitness. Our respiration is slower, our muscles are atrophied, our flexibility is decreased, our bones are less dense, our balance and stability are off, and our reaction times decline. This is why I think we all need to take a moment to focus on balance today in 3 ways.

Balance in Our Work/Home Lives
I work from home part of the time and part of the time I work out of the home. I am somewhat scared about what life will look like in 4 years from now when my youngest goes off to school and I re-enter the workforce full-time. I will be closer to 40 with no real "career" longevity at any one company to show for my time. But, for the time being I try to make life work without making work the number one priority. Remember, we should work to live, not live to work. So, evaluate your life and especially what you do for work and determine, how could I make work work better for me? Are you doing things at work to stay healthy? Do I move often at work? Do I pack my lunch or at least choose wisely at my eating times? Do I eat mindfully or sit in front of the computer screen mindlessly gobbling whatever I have in front of me? Do I take advantage of health and fitness opportunities offered at my work? How can I improve my functionality at work to improve my life away from work? Can I leave work at work?

Balance in Our Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Self
This is an area in which I am currently working. It's important to know how to keep yourself happy and what that entails. What makes you feel fulfilled in life? What gives you a sense of purpose? 6 years ago, when I got divorced from my first husband, I went through a year of self-discovery. During that process I learned a lot about myself and it all eventually led me to being who I am today. However, in the past few years my life has changed again. I became someone else's wife and two little someone's mom. Therefore, it's always good to re-evaluate from time to time. I know, that personally, when I do not devote enough time to yoga and exercise, to my meditation and to reading and learning, then I feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders and it's awfully heavy. We all need our own personal escapes; the "ME" time. Finding balance in your heart, your mind, your soul.

Balance in Our Physical Bodies
Finally, because it is Tone It Up Tuesday, think about balance in your body. Yoga brings a lot of balance to the body by way of practicing poses on each side individually and by practicing "balance" poses. Lots of "functional" exercises prepare the body for regular movement by challenging individual sides in ways that we move day to day. The wood chopper exercise from last week is a prime example. Simple measures of balance like sitting on a physio ball can tell you a lot about the physical balance you have in your body. Do you feel like you will fall off or like it would be fun to bounce up and down? Do you think you might be able to do this?
If you're new to balance training, I don't recommend you start with anything like this, but perhaps just try this:
  • Stand with your feet hip width apart
  • Spread your toes out as if you're gripping into the floor or mat
  • Relax your arms away from your body as they fall gently to the sides
  • Relax your shoulders away from your ears as your head rises up through the crown toward the ceiling
  • Let the weight of your body fall evenly throughout your feet, ankles, knees, and hips
  • Close your eyes
  • Examine your body head to toe in your mind and look for areas that are higher than the opposite side, further forward or back, carrying more weight, more tight
  • Then, without shifting your hip, pick one foot up
  • Set the foot back down slowly
  • Repeat on the opposite foot
An exercise like this can tell you a lot about yourself inside and out. It can tune in some somatic awareness as well as kinesthetic awareness. It can be the beginnings of true balance training and improving your stability and coordination. Give it a try and tell me what you find below.

Where in your life do you have the most balance?
Thoughts on balance training?
Do you call it a see saw or a teeter totter?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Yoga Is Not a Religion

Dear Infinite World Around Me,

I do not know if I have ever truly prayed....at least not in the sense of how Gates speaks of it in relation to Brahmacarya. He says that prayer is a surrender to something greater than yourself. I remember being younger and attending Religious Education at the Catholic church and being taught to pray. I know the words of several prayers, but I'm not always sure that my intentions are behind the words being said. I don't remember ever having that feeling; a deep commitment to something greater than myself. At least not something that I feel I am 100% sure exists. I know the days I have longed for that. I know the times I have prayed and asked for something to be the outcome I desired.

I have never considered myself to be a religious person, but always felt that I knew what I believed in and that was good enough. I have faith in people. However, I have never been able to put into words what it is that makes me have faith or what exactly it is that I believe. I guess I just figured that when I was confronted with a situation that I'd know what I feel is right and wrong and that would be good enough. But to surrender? To give up all control and doubt? To know that I should no longer ask for something to be an outcome, but just to let it be?

I don't know if I really do believe in something greater than me some days. I don't know if that means that I don't truly stand for anything. I don't know if it's a sign of being scared to find out what else there is. And I don't know if I could ever be truly selfless in prayer as I've not been conditioned to pray in that way. Without sounding selfish....some answers please?


Sincerely,
Me

I feel like this interpretation of prayer and of the practice of Brahmacarya could be very controversial. I want to make sure that people understand that Yoga, in itself, is not a religion, but blends well with other religious practices because it asks you to consider many of the same things that religion does. However, in yoga, we seek a connectedness to something greater than ourselves that exists within each one of us and is not totally defined. For someone like myself who likes organization and definition, practicing yoga is a practice of wills. Structured and organized religion should be a place that I flourish, but it is not. I like my yoga journey because, although it makes me wonder what I really stand for, that is kind of the point. And in doing it this way, I am able to work at my own pace and choose my course. When I'm ready to accept that the control is not mine, my yoga will be there to hold me and connect me. As I am not yet there, my yoga is there to guide me and hold some structure to the world around me.

Do you prefer self discovery or organized religion or a combined practice?
Do you ask for things when you pray?  
Have you surrendered to a higher power?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Delicious Three Way

Blueberries and Cinnamon.....may I introduce you to Brownie....I think this is going to be one delicious three way.  :) 

I've been making these brownies lately that are a great use of blueberries past their regular season. I love blueberries in pies, muffins, yogurt, milkshakes, cobblers, oatmeal, etc. But who would have thought blueberries in brownies?!
Baking these brownies makes your house smell like the holidays because cinnamon and chocolate fill the air. Those are two good smells in my eyes. However, I can't stand the fake cinnamon smell from scented candles, potpourri, cinnamon liquor or candies, air fresheners, cinnamon brooms or cinnamon pine cones that overwhelm me when I go to Fresh Market. I prefer the smell of real holiday food cooking or my favorite candle....Cranberry Chutney!
 
The good news about the brownies is that you can whip them up in one bowl, stick them in the oven right before a meal, and enjoy a delicious treat by the time you're done. Hot and gooey when they come out of the oven, they are just as chewy the next day.....if they last that long. The blueberries inside make for a nice fruit surprise that doesn't add too much extra sweetness.

Ingredients
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c brown sugar
1/2 T pure vanilla extract (I made them once w/ a bourbon vanilla that my aunt had given me, YUM!)
2 eggs
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 c frozen blueberries (keep them frozen)
1/2 c chocolate chips (your favorite variety...optional, but why not?!)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish (if you like thinner brownies you can use a larger dish)
  3. Whisk together the butter, sugar, and vanilla
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time (I have just whisked them in too)
  5. Slowly stir in the flower, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt until well blended (the batter will be thick)
  6. Stir in blueberries and chocolate chips
  7. Pour into baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  8. Enjoy them mindfully and share with others (that second part is optional)

What smells do you enjoy at the holidays?
What's your go to brownie?
How do you like to use blueberries out of season?
Do you share your desserts? 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Barnes and Noble....Please Be My Library!

Hey it's Random Thoughts Thursday again, where word vomit is the norm! In case you've been wondering, I am all caught up on the millions of blog posts I hadn't read before and now find everything in my every day kind of falling in line. It's wonderful! Except....I'm still not on to a book that I'm reading for pleasure.

Currently I am reading Christabel Zamor's book, Hooping: A Revolutionary Fitness Program because I am writing a workshop about hula hooping for fitness. It's a nice book and Zamor is the founder of the HoopGirl Workout. She's very smart about incorporating actual facts into her book and not just a bunch of loose claims supported by anecdotal evidence. I need to finish this book this week and put the final touches on my workshop. Thank goodness for this book in my writing process though. Most of the rest of my work has been taken from various websites and books that I can read online. My company was kind enough to purchase this book for my use because I couldn't find a copy of it at a library near me and couldn't preview the whole thing online anywhere.

I've also been reading bits and pieces of David Pond's book, Chakras for Beginners because I am teaching about the seven different chakras in my yoga class. It's also not available at any library I have access to. So, I've been piecing together lots of information from viewable excerpts of his book, other websites, my own knowledge on the subject, other stuff I've written previously, etc. This process of viewing "previews" of books has me thinking about the whole Taylor Swift vs. Spotify debate that I can't seem to go a day without hearing about. Yes, Taylor, I agree with you; things that someone creates should not necessarily be free, but....do you allow radios to play your songs?

I know that radio stations pay fees to musicians and labels etc for the right to play their music on air, but then it's out there and who is to stop some young kid from recording it off the air and thereby having their own copy? I know I used to do things like that when I was younger.....tape whole sets of songs off the radio station on to cassette tapes. Was it great quality? No. But, it was FREE (minus the cost of blank cassette tapes, which let's face it, was NOTHING in today's standards).
I've also been guilty of going to places like Barnes and Noble and reading books there without purchasing them. My library is a good one, but it disappoints me frequently. Hello library, yoga is not a self-help section! When I was pregnant the first time around I didn't feel like investing in a lot of baby naming books, so I'd go and peruse them at B&N....it was a cheap way to get me out of the house for an hour. But B&N has disappointed me in the past as well. Why are there 8 million copies of Twilight, but so little on the things I want to read about?

In writing this now I feel like I owe the world a lot of royalty fees somewhere along the lines.

So, what's your take?
What are you reading these days?
Do you frequent the local library?
Should music be free for all?
Do you like Taylor Swift?
Have you ever stolen something without actually taking it?
Have you seen this?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kid Lifts

Welcome back to Tone It Up Tuesday. I'm your host, AmberLynn, and today we're talking to all of the moms, babysitters, cool aunts, friends, etc out there who interact with small children and love to get fit. If only this blog had gotten cool enough to have its own tv show.....

Either way, I really am speaking to those of you out there who feel a lot like Stacy over at Stacy Makes Cents.
Having kids is a daily mommy workout - here is my plan...no Burpees included.

Trust me ladies.....I get it. I have had two kids myself and each time I went through it I weighed the pros and cons of exercising during my pregnancies and my attempts to get the baby weight off after. I am not naive to the fact that this experience is different for each woman. Some women start out heavier than others, some gain a lot of weight, while others look like they've just over indulged a little at Thanksgiving dinner. Some women have pregnancies of ease in which they have zero symptoms while others experience morning sickness 24/7 for 9 months, late deliveries complicated by gestational diabetes, swollen everything, pregnancy mask, bacne, and hemorrhoids. Some women come into pregnancy with it all mapped out and scheduled along side their regular weekly manicure and yoga class while others realize half way through that a walk from the chair to bathroom without getting out of breath and peeing on themselves sounds like heaven! So, my experience is not the same as yours and that's okay. However, when you're ready to get going again here are some tips for getting started and some fun exercises that don't require you to change your schedule....much.

First, once you've had a baby, because I'm only talk to those post-natal women this week, wait until you're cleared for exercise! I can't stress this enough! Do not try to do ab workouts in your postpartum room! There is a lot that went on with your body during the time that you were growing another human being, so take it easy....you earned it. Then, when your health practitioner clears you to go back, start slow. I recommend walking at first.

After my second child I found out that I had split my abs open in a condition known to the fitness and medical communities as diastis recti.
Like that....not like this:
Which limited the abdominal exercises I was allowed to do for awhile. This is important information to have when planning your course of action with any daily activity as your core (including those abdominal muscles) is greatly engaged in almost every move you make. You also need to consider (especially after your first) that the wave of relaxin hormone that washed over you has made all of the joints and ligaments in your body extra flexible and therefore at extra risk of being injured by shear forces caused when you stop abruptly or change directions quickly. The loosey goosey feeling in your hips was great while pushing out junior, but not so great to have your knee surgically repaired because you turned around too quickly post-baby.

If you're not that into exercising after the baby, you might just consider a few moves to help keep you in strong mama mode for those activities of daily living...here are a few of my favorite ways to interact with my kids while sort of doing resistance training.  
The Push-Up or Plank: Great for giving kisses and getting smiles, but also great for learning how to push doors open with a baby strapped to you and how to get back up off of the floor when you just don't think you can any more! The plank is a great precursor to the push-up, check out more on it here.

Squat: If you want to know all about some of my favorite squats, link here, but this is a great one to practice if you want to be good at getting up every time you sit down because your baby needs you and you never get to rest...and according to the look of this picture, helps you duck to avoid things thrown at you and prepares your baby for future Tae Bo workouts. You can also do the squat while holding or wearing the baby for an extra close experience.
Biceps Curls: A great way to work on catching your baby should they fall from above, building upper body strength for picking up children, groceries, diaper bags, laundry baskets (you can also practice this one with the baby in the laundry basket), and anything else that you have to tote around.
Bridges: Helps you to practice throwing older kids off of you as they climb into your bed at 6am like a bucking bronco. Also great for making eye contact with the baby and building up strength in your glutes that may have atrophied by sitting around breast feeding for hours on end.

  
Woodchoppers: A nice way to make some eye contact with your little one and work on putting away groceries at the same time. Also good for learning how to bend down correctly to get EVERYTHING that that little one is going to drop on the floor.
 
          









































































































































































































































 






 Side note: Sorry I didn't have time to shoot actual images with my kids. Here you can just imagine that you're using a baby in place of the fitness equipment and that you look like you instead of this fitness model.

 
And I just don't know what this guy is doing with this baby.

What kind of kid lifts do you practice?
Did you/are you concerned with losing the baby weight?
Have you ever borrowed someone else's kid to workout with?
Would you let that guy babysit your kids?!