Thursday, February 26, 2015

TOLT: What's Going On....

I've been away from the blog for almost a week now while traveling. I went to Tulsa, well more specifically Sand Springs, to teach a workshop. Here are five posts in one to catch us up!

1. Simple Simon Sunday: Food On The Go
The area I was staying in this past weekend was populated by fast food and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of grease and quickly prepared semi-foods. I am really repulsed by most fast food. The idea of previously frozen, rewarmed, food like items just makes my stomach turn and my mouth feel numb. It sits like a brick inside my stomach and drains me of my energy. I spent this weekend longing for options, but was disappointed at every turn. It all made me feel so rotten and then made me feel even worse for the people who live here. What are their options?
This was the label on a box of chocolate chip cookies from my local grocery store.....not sure I agree with the title "good for you."
What are the healthiest food options in your area?

2. Meditation Monday: Serenity by Luck of the Draw
Do you ever have that moment when everything seems to just click into place for you? On Sunday my workshop was canceled early due to weather. It seemed like all was going down hill. First there was the lack of food options on my trip. Then I had two really bad runs (Friday night on the treadmill and Saturday was short of my 2mi goal for each run this month). Then came the weather. Then it free pass. I was able to catch an earlier flight home and would be arriving to my house before my kiddos' bed time! I sat on my first flight with that hopefully anticipation and feeling like everything was going my way and then she opened her mouth. The woman next to me, a kindergarten teacher from Atlanta who can't wait to retire, decided it was her job to tell me all about why Montessori and private schools are wrong for children after asking me only a few minutes worth of questions about my kids. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of the NC public school system, but please don't judge the choices I make for my kids when you're no longer fully invested in the ones you are educating.

Do you think that teachers should have to meet higher criteria to become teachers than just wanting to work with kids?
Do you believe in the phrase: "Those that can't do; teach"?

3. Tone It Up Tuesday: More Fun than a Pogo Ball!
So, Tuesday was our last one of the month and next Tuesday I will be announcing the prize for our end of the year fitness challenge (see here and here). This month I focused on exercising for fun, but still haven't gotten my jump rope. Instead I was able to play more with my kids and try out rollerblading, but only one time. Realizations about rollerblades that have sat in their box for the past 6.5 years:
  • They may not be the pair you remember that you owned (I guess I sold those to my sister sometime back and had forgotten I'd bought others)
  • The brake may be worn down and not stop you as quickly
  • You are not a rollerblading genius and it's almost impossible to chase a 20 month old while you're on them while simultaneously talking with a friend who is pushing a stroller and watch your 4 year old on his balance bike. (Unfortunately this also meant no photos were snapped of the event that lasted all of 20 disastrous minutes)
However, I am still committed to finding more fun ways to exercise and realized that we as parents make one crucial mistake when playing with our kids. The last time I was running around and playing with the boys and I started to get winded, I instinctively said it was time to settle down for a minute. But why? Shouldn't I want to get my heart rate up and maintain it? Shouldn't I want them to play just as hard and for prolonged periods of time? I think we need to stop wimping out of play time so that we don't teach them to quit when it gets a little difficult.

PS-Never choose exercise for fun as your goal in the month that is coldest and most likely to get snow/rain/bad weather.

I found this at the Children's Museum today....did you have one growing up?

Would you try it again now?

4. Random Thought #1: The South Sucks at Winter Preparedness
I'm always hearing about school closures and major accidents in the south when it starts to snow or sleet or ice up. Here's  a thought....if you can't stand the cold; don't go outside. If you don't know how to drive in winter weather; don't get behind the wheel. If school gets shut down every year for a dusting of snow, start investing in a sand truck so that maybe kids can learn something.

My kids may have been born in the south, but they're midwestern troopers and love the cold and snow and would go outside in the middle of a blizzard if I let them.

How are you dealing with the weather in your area?

5. Random Thought #2: Kids have the BEST vocabularies!
I like using big words with my kids because if they don't hear a word, they're not likely ever going to learn it. So, I read them books with large words and I talk to them at a level above what most people talk to kids like. I love hearing them use new words too! For instance, when my oldest son was a very small child (under 2) he would call all trains "Choo Choos". Even if we called them trains, that's what he said. So, I continued to use the word train. Eventually, (somewhere between 18 mo and 3) he started identifying different types of trains by their names. There were freight trains and passenger trains and bullet trains. He even learned about Amtrak when we rode it for his birthday. He is now four and regularly calls trains and their compartments by their proper names. Two weeks ago we checked out this book from the library called Locomotive and today he was building a locomotive out of mega bloks in his bedroom. He liked the new word even more than the differentiated types of trains. He has even learned that a train with two engines is called a double header and we've learned all about how to use the Johnson bar and throttle to move the train. He has learned about the different valves (tricock) and gauges as well as the drive wheels, pistons, rods, etc on the train. He knows that two toots of the whistle means we're headed forward and three is back. He's big into pretending that he's coupling with you by making a cupped hand and hooking it to yours.

However, kids' vocabularies can go awry sometimes too. Today we met a new little boy at the Children's Museum named Brayden (not sure of the spelling, but you get the idea). My son kept referring to him as Raisin.

What kinds of funny things do your kids say?
What is one of their favorite big words to use?

Thanks Amanda!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fast Friday: Your Body is NOT a Bank Account

It's 10:03pm on a Friday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma....and you guessed it, I'm on the road this weekend and alone in my hotel room. I thought a lot about writing this post earlier in the day, but then decided to devote my time to my kids since I wouldn't be seeing them again until they wake up on Monday morning...probably too early for the time I would have gotten back in the night before.

So, here I sit at the Hampton Inn, sweaty, and having eaten dinner way too early so that now all I can think about is a snack. I did finally accomplish the task of working out on the first night I arrive at a hotel and I can tell you that the Hampton Inn needs someone to check out their treadmills and pump up their physio balls! DESPERATELY! Well, enough about me and the smell of travels...on to our Fast Friday!
I recently read a blog post over at Green Mountain at Fox Run written by Jacki Monaco titled: Stop Waiting for Cheat Days. In her article Jacki talks about how people often "save up their calories" for a special treat, to which I responded that people do it with sleep too. How many of you have ever slept in on a weekend day (before kids) to "make up for" or "prepare for" an early day or long nights?

So, as you enter this weekend, try to think of your body in terms of every day life. Don't over sleep or under sleep; don't over eat or hold out for dessert; don't sit around more because it's the weekend, but don't be a weekend warrior either. Your body doesn't know Saturday from Wednesday. Look for a balanced way to live your life.

In what way(s) have you been guilty of treating your body like a bank account?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

TOLT: Quitting, Hips, and Weather

The other day my sister called me a quitter for deleting Trivia Crack and Words With Friends from my phone in the middle of our games. I did this for one reason: I have better things to do with my time. I shot back at her a snide comment about going to the gym and I really wish I hadn't said it because I can think of several times in my life where I have quit something fitness related. So, here's the list of what I can remember.
Softball - Played it in summer leagues when I was in elementary school, but never made it past two summers.

Volleyball - Played in middle school and didn't go further.

Basketball - Played in some elementary (I think I started in 5th grade) years and had high hopes of being the first woman in the NBA. I quite after 8th grade because I stopped growing and didn't feel I was coordinated enough to play any position other than Center....not exactly big enough for that position at 5'8"ish.

Soccer - I showed interest in this sport for exactly 1 practice during my Junior year of high school and then got Mono and couldn't finish the season. I never went back.

Crew Team - Somewhere in my college years I joined the club crew team and that was a disaster on it's own. I found out that I was nowhere near coordinated enough to row competitively and also not equipped for getting up at 4am for the middle of winter.

I can't think of any other sports that I've attempted and then quit all together, but I have quit many races for various reasons. Usually it involved me not training properly (at all) as a child (under high school age) and then attempting to go out and run a 5k. Four races in particular stand out to me and they were all multi-sport events for which I was "finished" without wanting to quit.

Junior Nationals Qualifier - Kansas - I want to say it was the summer of 1996 when I performed so awesomely in triathlons around Iowa that I earned the right to travel to Kansas and compete for a spot on the Junior Nationals team. It was a long shot clouded by the fact that, again, I wasn't giving training my all. Like I have said before, I have been blessed with a genetic ability to recover quickly from events, but that doesn't prepare you for the events themselves. This is a less I've learned now, but had yet to learn at the time. The race day was a grueling hot one and the event was what is now referred to as an Olympic Distance Triathlon. I remember the swim was easy and the bike was without shade. At that time in my life I refused to eat before any event and was struggling to down Gatorade and water throughout the ride. I remember looking at the people in the back of the ambulance and them asking my name....while I was still on the bike. The next thing I remember is being under a tent with an IV and bags of ice packed into every crevice of my body. I also remember my friend Dave running around trying to find his dad and my shorts.
Iowa's First Ironman, Pigman - Palo - By the summer before my Senior year of high school I was a "veteran" triathlete and had also completed three (was headed into my 4th) seasons of double sport competition for school. In Iowa women's swimming and cross country are both in the fall and I did both all four years. I attempted my first Half-Ironman triathlon that August on the same day as my Senior Swim Photos. The race started out great and I had been training all summer (as best I could while also holding down two jobs). I got off of the bike (56 miles) on a HOT August day in Iowa and my hips were swollen so much that I couldn't really see my tri-bikini that well. My parents made the decision for me, as I hobbled around the transition zone, to pull me from the race. I could barely walk. In part this was due to a condition for which I had suffered since I was born (congenital hip dysplasia) and a leg length discrepancy that came from scoliosis and a very fast growth spurt in my early teen years. Biking has always been a challenge for my hips because the arm crank lengths force me to rock back and forth. I've even tried adjusting, but in a cyclical motion the crank always ends up too long at one point and too short at another.
Duathlon in the Middle of Nowhere - Ohio - During my Senior year of high school my college aged boyfriend and I traveled to the Indiana/Ohio border to visit his parents. I'm not sure I remember why we went there, but we did. On the way there we drove off of the road in the middle of the night and almost drowned my car in a construction site during a torrential downpour. However, we made it to his parents' house and of the few things I remember from that weekend (I almost killed his mom because she had a peanut allergy and thought it would be nice to get a jar of peanut butter for me, but apparently you can't leave it open in their house) participating in a duathlon I'd selected from the back of Runner's World magazine and then failing to finish it was one of them. I can't tell you much about the event other than it was a run/bike/run event and I again made it to the bike portion. My hip gave out on me so fiercely that I had to be worked on for an hour under the tents in order to walk to the car. This was a sign to me that things were going very wrong in my body.

Many years passed between that event and the next race that I quit. In that time I quit Tae Bo/Kickboxing and some other random fitness trends. I continued to run (although hurdles and I have never been the same since high school either) and to bike and to swim. I competed on my collegiate triathlon team and in a few triathlons and road races. I eventually finished the Half-Ironman in August 2004. I lifted weights and started yoga and Pilates. My body changed in so many ways. I got married, I became a degreed and certified fitness professional, I coached, I trained, I got divorced. I moved to North Carolina and after a bit decided that the old me needed a resurgence. This meant training for and doing triathlons and road races again. I started on January 1, 2009 with a plan to do an event every month from April-September.

I trained hard and through another bad relationship. I did a sprint distance triathlon in April and a fun 5k in May. I quit my job and planned to go back to graduate school. This threw a kink in my competing plans because I wouldn't have the funds to do everything I'd planned. I rode 175miles in two days in June to raise money for MS. I skipped July and trained straight through to tackle that same Half-Ironman in August.

My third attempt at the event was going to be record breaking for me due to the amazing training I'd put in for the past 7 1/2 months. I drove home to Iowa from NC (after just meeting my husband) and prepared for the event. That morning my mom took me out to the course and stayed with me. The rest of my family was busy and I had no one else to ask to come and watch me. The swim was cold and rainy. The rain got worse and the wind blew. I was out of the water far ahead of schedule, but my pool time had stopped in May and I was really worn. I headed out to the bike and smiled as my mom took picks of me lacing up my tennis shoes. I was going super low tech this race and had borrowed a bike from my sister that was too small and had no pads on the aero bars. It was cold, but all I had was my tank top and shorts to keep me warm over the wet swim suit underneath.

The ride was another 56 miler and I headed out getting pounded by little droplets of water that felt like hail. My poor mom sat there at the race HQ waiting for the rain. I was blown off of the bike 3 times in the first 14 miles. I looked at the skies and at the pick-up spot (one of the places you could ditch out on the race) up ahead. I thought about what this race was meant to prove and how my mom was just sitting there waiting for me. I pulled over, got off of the bike (willingly this time) and waited for my ride back to transition. My mom was shocked to see me there, but she realized that I was making this decision with a good head on my shoulders. We went home, got warmed up and changed, and later that day I went out and ran 8 miles. I didn't complete the whole distance that day, nor did I cross the finish line, but I knew I could have had the weather been better.

I had every intention of coming back to that race the next year, but 9 months later I would be pregnant with my son, so it would have to wait. I won't say that I have quit triathlons for good at this point in my life. But, I have found some things that are more important to spend my money and my time on. As you have read here many times, I still run, I still bike, and we'll be talking about swimming in the future. I still exercise, but my goals have changed. I'm not a quitter, I just have different priorities for my training that don't necessarily involve competition.

What have you quit in the past?
What are you just on a time-out from?

Thanks Amanda!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tone It Up Tuesday: Guest Post....Pole Dancing

I have always intended for this blog to be a forum in which I could invite some of the amazing people in my life to share some of their stories of yoga, fitness, parenthood, and just life in general. Today is the first time a guest post has materialized from an idea into a real live post! Yay!

This month we've been talking about exercise for fun and on one Sunday afternoon earlier this month I get this text:
Wowsers, pole dancing is hard work!

This came in from my friend Jeri and immediately prompted me to pick up the phone and call her. Thanks to our discussion and some persuasion on my part, here is her story of a fun form of exercise.....
Jeri on the right.
I had never done a pole dancing class before and I was excited! My friend, Jennifer, was turning 30 and she'd had this planned for a fun way to celebrate. As the day was approaching, I felt super excited because I had never done it and had always wanted to. There were going to be 3 of us there. The place looked like a small gym from the outside and the inside was very cold and dark. We started off by learning how to walk around the pole and this was pretty easy. The class lasted an hour and included some tricks and spins. During the class I kept thinking I am going to hit someone with my long legs and the music was not very good pole dancing music, in my opinion. And afterward I had spaghetti arms. The night ended with the drive home. I am sure I would try this again because it was really fun aside from putting together moves, I'm not that kind of coordinated. My recommendation for others would be to go with others you know and can laugh with. And don't forget about the bruising/soreness/etc. Your arms will be sore mostly and the inside of your legs from spinning around the pole and my right hip was bruised but I am not sure what move that came from. I found out that I am a pretty good pole spinner. Who knew?

We went to Club BFit in West Des Moines, Iowa. There are other classes there and it was even featured on the local news.  For the Valentine's holiday they offered a beginner lap dance class.

Have you tried or considered trying pole dancing before?

If you are in the Wilmington area, check out Flow Fitness for pole classes. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meditation Monday: Woman, Women....

I have sort of a blank....or rather, wandering mind this Monday and I haven't put aside the usual time to meditate this past week. I toyed with the idea of not writing anything at all for today, but then, in reading my current library book, I found two questions bouncing around my head. I would love for you to share your answers and opinions as part of a multi-generational inquiry that I plan to email out to the women in my life.

Question #1: Did you celebrate Valentine's Day this year?

Question #2: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

This is the book I'm currently reading; click on the picture to go to the publisher's site.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Simple Simon Sunday: Soup and Chili

It is COLD here today! Yes, I know, I'm always bragging about our temps here, but today it is actually close to freezing cold. And this gets me thinking about soup and chili again. You can read about my chili here. This winter we've eating a variety of soups and chilis almost every week. Today I'm going to share two new recipes my family has enjoyed, but first a little quiz for you.
(Please remember that I do not claim to be a Registered Dietician, so all of the information provided below is researched and given by such professional.)

Which do you think is better for you? (Answers at the end.)

Bison or Beef
Apples or Pears
Almonds or Walnuts
Kale or Spinach
Canned Salmon or Canned Tuna
Whole Wheat Bread or Sprouted Bread
Quinoa or Brown Rice
Turkey Breast or Chicken Breast
Cheddar Cheese or Swiss Cheese
Pink Grapefruit or Oranges
Greek Yogurt or Regular Yogurt
Tilapia or Halibut
Green Bell Peppers or Red Bell Peppers
Kidney Beans or Black Beans
Canned Corn or Frozen Corn

In some of my attempt to eat with the seasons and also to try and save some money, I went in search of some new recipes for venison. We inherit some each year from friends and it's always a challenge to figure out new ways to eat it. We love it and it's a really lean meat, but you have to get creative from time to time. This year especially because we ended up with a lot of steak or tenderloin or roast (not really sure the correct name of the cut) meat this year and not any ground. In my search I came across this tasty venison stew that incorporated barley (one of the items on my list) and was so delicious that I wanted to share it with you here:
1.  1# Pound venison stake in small cubes
2.  5 Cups of water/ 1 cup added with barley
3.  4 Bouillon cubes beef flavor
4.  2/3 cup Quick Barley
5.  1 teaspoon salt
6.  1 bay leaf
7.  Pepper to taste
8.  1 Cup Carrots diced
9.  1 Cup onion diced 
10.  1 Can petite diced tomatoes 
11. 1 Cup frozen peas 
12. 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Some substitutions I made:
  • I didn't add the extra cup of water because I wanted it to be more stew like and less soup like
  • I used almost a whole cup of this
    instead of just barley
  • I used 1/4t thyme instead of the bay leaf (gave the meat an almost pot roast or lamb flavor and made the house smell soooo good!)
  • I used frozen carrots and peas mixed and did 2 cups added at the same time toward the end of the recipe
We made this to share with friends and there wasn't a bit left over. I also made a box of Jiffy cornbread muffins in which I add in about 1/2 c of applesauce 2T honey and sub reduced sugar vanilla almond milk for the regular milk. I still add the egg and it comes out fluffy and moist and was the perfect "sweet" to the "salty" of the stew.

The second soup that I loved, maybe more than my family, but probably in part because something went wrong in the making of the soup was this one from IGE:
Gluten Free White Queso Chicken and Rice Soup
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded then chopped
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups (48oz) chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk, divided (I used 2%)
  • 10oz can Rotel
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free or all-purpose flour (see notes for brand used)
  • 8oz shredded white cheddar cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips, for topping
I completely left out the green bell pepper on this one because no one in my family likes the green variety and I was out of red at the time. And it was whole milk I dumped in because we have only that and fat free, so I was worried about not having enough fat content for the soup to be creamy....maybe should have done one cup each. I used brown basmati rice in this one and my favorite white cheddar cheese that I discovered while living in Vermont.
That cheese is sooo delicious with an apple too.
Somehow I wasn't stirring well enough and ended up with lots of lumps of cheese and flour in my soup, but ate it anyway. Kristin Porter sure does make a great soup!

Here are a two other chili ideas from Ambitious Kitchen that will be making their way to our table this month and don't forget about her cornbread muffin recipe either!

So, now the answers to the quiz:
Bison, Pears, Almonds, Kale, Canned Salmon, Sprouted Bread, Quinoa, Turkey Breast, Swiss Cheese, Pink Grapefruit, Greek Yogurt, Halibut, Red Bell Peppers, Kidney Beans, and Frozen Corn
(Sorry, you'll have to subscribe to get the full article here, but can read some of Matthew Kadey's , MS, RD other articles here.)

How did you do on the quiz?
What is keeping you warm this winter?
Have you tried any of the seasonal food items yet?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fast Friday Tips: Nayoya No-No

It is Friday and my upper body is asking for a break due to the push-ups and extra yoga I've been doing.....this makes me a little nervous for my next workout tomorrow (Valentine's Day), but I love my body enough to give it the gift of health and not quit on my routine. Yesterday I was able to try out my rollerblades and I may give them another whirl this weekend, but you'll hear more about that on Tuesday. Today it's time for a quick review of my Pilates ring on this edition of Fast Friday.
You can read my official review on Amazon of this product here, but here are the 5 big things I'd like to tell you about the Nayoya Pilates Ring - Premium Power Resistance Full Body Toning Fitness Circle.
  1. The ring is not very sturdy. It has shown serious signs of wear and tear and I've had it less than two months and only have been really using it seriously the last two weeks.
  2. The pads are too big. When I perform the exercise for my biceps by placing the ring up near my shoulder, it constantly slips because the pads are just too large.
  3. It doesn't feel nice. The materials are sort of sticky feeling and, as other reviewers noted, it does have a smell (but I don't use it much near my face).
  4. It isn't very strong.  At least one other company that I had hoped to receive a Pilates ring from offers different levels of resistance. This one I would guess is close to the "light" resistance level, but I'm not sure that most people would feel resistance with the ring I have. Perhaps I'm bias as I have used the ones in fitness centers and Pilates studios over the years. 
  5. The cost is not an advantage. The cost of this Pilates ring is advertised as $28.47, but down from a list price of $44.97. NEVER in my wildest dreams would I have paid $45 for this Pilates ring! The two that I have listed below are much better quality and not nearly as costly.
If you're going to purchase fitness equipment for your home, I recommend these three steps:
  • Determine if you will actually use it - you know, like the treadmill you've seen at someone's house that doubles as a clothes rack....
  • Weigh the cost of the equipment against the cost of joining a facility that has all of the equipment you might want, plus professionals who can answer your questions about using it properly.
  • Ask a professional and buy where they do.
Most fitness centers that I have worked for purchase their equipment from companies like PerformBetter and Power-Systems. These are the two places that I investigated getting a new Pilates ring for my future use. They have professional grade equipment at reasonable prices. Check at your local gym and you'll probably find something from either of their catalogs on the fitness floor or in a group exercise studio. Here are the links to the Pilates rings:
PerformBetter Yoga and Pilates Accessories
Power-Systems Pilates Rings

As you can see, comparable price and Power Systems offers three resistance levels. I plan to purchase the firm resistance as that is the one I am used to using at facilities I have taught at. I will keep this one because my son likes to play with it and who doesn't want to encourage their kids to try new exercises?!

Where do you buy your fitness equipment?
Have you ever worked with a Pilates ring before?