Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cover Your Eyes

I have been swimming for about 8 weeks now. And although I have purchased a number of things to make swimming even more fun, I must say that the most important item to have is goggles.

Without goggles you cannot open your eyes underwater. And thus you miss many clues: how far you have left in the lane, if you are going in a straight line, and if something is in your way.

Now goggles are not a one size fits all sort of thing. Unless you already know what type and style fits you, please do not order them online. Most stores will let you open goggle packages so that you can fit them properly. This involves standing in the middle of the store and pressing the goggles to your face to see if they will stick for a few seconds. If they don't, they aren't right for your face.

I had to try on 3 pairs of goggles before finding the right pair and it has made all the difference in the world. So while I love my new *fancy* swim fins, and my new bathing suit, my goggles will always be my favorite swimming accessory.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don't Jump The Gun

History has shown that gun sales go up after reports of public shootings. The one yesterday in a Oregon suburb about 45 minutes from where I live has surely scared many in my community. And so I beg those who are considering the purchase of a firearm (because they are scared) to pause for a moment.

Owning a firearm does not guarantee your safety. In fact, buying a firearm out of fear and just throwing it in a drawer is a truly dangerous thing. Using a firearm safely and accurately is a skill, and like most skills, needs to be practiced on a regular basis.

Rather than jumping to a purchase of a gun, please consider taking a course first. One of the primary objectives of the NRA is education and safety, and they have great courses. (The Basic Pistol class is a great one to start with.) They also have resources for parents to teach gun safety to their children.

With a reported 47% of American households with guns already in them, I will also mention that it is never to late to take a course and educate yourself about the proper handling and use of a firearm. Better late than never.

And remember: Education trumps fear every time.










Monday, December 3, 2012

Fill My Town With Love

 
On December 6, 2012, thanks to the voters of Washington State, gay marriage will be legal. (It's about damn time.) Washington is currently the only state on the West Coast where gay marriage is legal.

To me, it's not just about rights and justice, it's about celebrating love. What could be better than celebrating love? I don't know what/if the city is doing anything to help out-of-state gay couples but I've taken it upon myself to become an ambassador. I want you to fill my town with love.

The town I live in, Vancouver, Washington is the southern most town in Washington, thus the first one you encounter when you are traveling from California, Oregon or other states. By the way, it also was recently named "The sixth most gay friendly city in America" by The Advocate.

At first I considered pushing a shopping cart full of rainbow flags around downtown Vancouver, handing them out, putting them in flower beds, etc. But I thought creating a list of wedding resources in Downtown Vancouver might actually be more helpful. (And a little less silly.)

RESOURCES: (All located in Downtown Vancouver and are within walking distance. There are many other retail establishments in greater Vancouver, but I am just hi-lighting the immediate vicinity.)

License:
How To Get A Marriage License In Vancouver, WA (Spoiler: 3 day waiting period, no blood tests required, you can start applying online for a license on December 6, 2012.)

 Getting Here:
* Car: Take the City Center #1C exit off of I-5 North
* Private plane: Pearson Airport
* Train: Amtrak
* Bus: C-Tran, Washington & Evergreen stop

Hotels:
* Swanky: Vancouver Hilton
* Waterfront: Red Lion At The Quay

Flowers:
* Hip: Mieko's Marketplace Flowers
* Traditional: Luepke Florist

Cupcakes/Cakes:
* Treat

Dinner:
* Both hotels listed above have nice restaurants (and great Sunday brunches)
* Tiger's Garden (Our favorite Thai restaurant.)
* Tommy O's Pacific Rim Grill

Banquet Halls:
* Both hotels have spaces for wedding receptions.
* You can also rent space in our swanky new library.

Coffee:
* Java House
* Starbucks
* Torque Coffee Roasters 


For other helpful resources please check out GayVancouverWA.


Congratulations and best wishes!


Note: I receive no compensation for my recommendations. I am just trying to make a helpful list of resources I have seen and sometimes use. If I missed anything, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Come For The Men, Stay For The Meals

About a year ago, I switched my Women's Health Magazine subscription to a Men's Health subscription. (Technically I had to cancel one and start another, it was not an easy switcheroo.) I did this because both magazines have the same health news, but I much prefer the workouts in Men's Health. I also like the profiles of the cover models. Ok, ok, and some of the photos aren't too bad either. But one of my favorite things about Men's Health Magazine is the recipes.

They know that men are not going to bother with a 23 ingredient recipe, that they enjoy their protein, and that they want it ready fast. These are all things I appreciate too.

Here are my two new favorite Men's Health Magazine recipes:

Shrimp and Black Bean Enchiladas

Chicken and White Bean Chili (Sorry, the recipe doesn't seem to be available yet online.)

For more quick and yummy recipes check out the Short Order Cook part of the Men's Health website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Take A Look Back


2 years ago in November I was working at a crazy company with some fabulous people.

3 years ago in November I was healing from emergency back surgery.

5 years ago in November, I started blogging.

I have now posted here 447 times. Technically, I posted 8 times on the first day (I got a little over excited) but here is the first: Use Old Envelopes For Grocery Lists.



Thanks for coming along on my journey (no matter when you joined me).


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Find Calorie Free Candy

A friend of mine is going though a break up. Having been married now for 12 years, and since I'm an old, old, lady, break ups are a distant memory for me. The only sage advice I had for her was to take good care of herself.

Oh, and to find as much eye candy as possible. Our eyes have muscles, and they need to be worked just like every other muscle. (Tee hee)

It enrages me when TV shows and movies show women consoling themselves with ice cream or wine after a break up. This is not a healthy way (or particularly effective) way to recover. One needs stress relieving activities that make you laugh, smile or transport you to a happier place for a little while. Thus the eye candy suggestion. (Other suggestions: working out, getting out of the house, joining clubs and groups.)

Back when I was dating, we had silly cards with hunky men on them that we could send to each other after a break up. But these days we have THE INTERNET!

In addition to looking around at the eye candy near her (Hello: College boys!) I thought I'd send her my favorite clips and photos of men worthy of her attention. (Note: My friend K.Y. sends me photos of Ryan Lochte, so it's only fair that I pass the love along.)

But I can only think of so many hot guys. Then I realized that this lovely Internet of ours would probably have oodles of "Hottest Guys" lists.

And they do ...

So thanks to

Men's Health

Cosmopolitan

Redbook

Glamour

iVillage

for the inspiration. I'll just have to search through all those lists, looking for hot men. It's a tough job, but someones gotta do it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prepare For The Worst

I have been trying to put together an Emergency Preparedness kit for years. I research what the Red Cross and others suggest we have on hand, and start to collect the items but I never seemed to finish.

I tried to cheap out once and just refill plastic juice bottles with water. When I finally got back to working on the kit, the bottles had burst, flooding the plastic container with water and ruining the candles, flashlights and such I had collected. It had been so long since I last opened the container that the water was actually moldy.

After cleaning up that smelly mess, I sat down and thought long and hard about what was stopping me from completing this necessary task. And I finally realized that it felt wasteful to buy duplicates of things we already own. So I decided on a different plan. Rather than buying all the items the Red Cross suggests, I would instead create a document cataloguing the items and where they were in the house, so that in case of emergency we can just grab them. This epiphany opened a flurry of activity and I even figured out (and noted) how to 1) Turn off the water to the house and 2) Turn off the gas line to the house. I also made emergency kits for each car.

Here's an example of what it looks like:

 
Items (description, number, location):
  1. Blankets
    1. Red fleece blankets, 2, living room
    2. Down comforters, 2, our bedroom
    3. Blue down comforter, Lia's office
    4. White cotton blankets, 2, front bedroom
    5. Green blanket, extended emergency kit
    6. Waffle comforter, Martin's office
    7. Brown comforter, front bedroom
  2. Bleach, under sink in laundry room
  3. Bucket, 2; under sink in laundry room; part of house emergency kit
  4. Car Emergency Kits, 2; trunk of each car
  5. Charcoal for grill, 1 bag, in garage near side door
  6. Cooler for insulin, 2, in pantry
  7. Duct Tape, plastic drawers in garage
  8. Dust masks, house emergency kit

 Each car emergency kit is checked by me after each oil change (2x a year) or before a long trip, and the household emergency kit is checked 2x a year.
Visit Red Cross.org and/or Ready.gov and start preparing your own kit. You can assemble it yourself (like I did) or buy a prepared kit.
I only ended up having to buy a few things, and having all this in place has made me feel so much more prepared for whatever mother nature has in store for us. Be prepared! Be safe!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Go Pro (biotics)

I am starting a second round of antibiotics to try and destroy the sinus infection that seems to think it can live in my head. This means all the "bugs" both good and bad inside my body have little targets on them. Phew! Phew! Phew! and the antibiotics shoot them dead.

But with no good "bugs" things can go helter skelter, resulting in my least favorite medical condition: a yeast infection. So far, with my twice daily ingestion of bacteria rich yogurt and the occasional bratwurst with sauerkraut, I seem to be winning that battle. But a girl can only eat so much yogurt before she wants to just chuck it against the wall.

So, with 2 more weeks of antibiotics ahead of me, I am adding another pro biotic to my diet: Kombucha. Kombucha is essentially fermented tea. It is a favorite of both my mother in law and hipsters everywhere. Although you technically can home brew it, that just isn't going to happen in my house. So I went on a exodus for bottled Kombucha. Much to my shock, Trader Joe's didn't have it, but my local grocery store, Fred Meyer did.

I ended up with GT's Synergy Kombucha (a combination of Kombucha, juice, and 100% pure love). The juice is added to enhance the flavor.

I was a little nervous at first but quickly grew to like the bubbly, tea-like flavor. My current favorite is their Cosmic Cranberry. I'm glad I've found another weapon to use in my fight against yeast infections. Hurrah!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Go For A Spin

A year ago, on a complete whim (and thanks in part I suppose to the marketing department at Church & Dwight Co.) I bought a Arm & Hammer Spinbrush. Ok, not a complete whim, I had been considering buying a Sonicare brush, the pricier older cousin (about $100 vs $10) to the Spinbrush when I realized it might be nice to test out a similar technology before I shelled out so much cash.

My initial reaction was not a positive one as all the vibrations gave me a headache, but my teeth did feel cleaner so I soldered on. After about 4 uses, I got used to it and had no more headaches. And most surprisingly, I noticed that it actually made my teeth whiter.

At my last 2 dental check ups the hygienist has remarked that my teeth have less tartar build up. Which means (much to my delight) the visits are shorter than usual. The hygienist did mention that the Sonicare brush would do an even better job, but for now I'm sticking with the Spinbrush.

NOTE: I you'd like to try one out, feel free to use this coupon I just found.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lust All You Want

I come from a long line of readers and happily visit the library at least once a week to get a new stash. On my way out the door recently I happened to see a book about books one should read. I was a little hazy from the allergy medication so I didn't pay much attention, but apparently I stored it away in my brain. Later on in the month when I was out of books to read (panic!!), I realized that the book I saw in the display might help me out.

Now, if only I could remember it's name ... "Book" and something naughty. Bookslut? Well, that is a online site that reviews books but I don't think it's what I saw. Hmm ... maybe if I rearrange the SLUT ... ah yes! LUST. Book Lust (or More Book Lust, to be exact).

Book Lust and More Book Lust are books written by Seattle Librarian Nancy Pearl. Each has over 1,000 suggestions for any kind of reading you might be interested in. While I appreciate learning about new to me books, it is also fun to see familiar names. And in this case, to learn the name of one I fondly remember from grade school: The Twenty One Balloons by William Pene du Bois. Remember Krakatoa?


I've already added about 10 books to my library queue and I look forward to reading more. Crisis averted!

NOTE: Ok, technically my loving (and patient) husband searched for and found More Book Lust for me in the library with my oh so helpful hints of "it's about books" "it has the word book in it" and "something naughty" while I stood there and whined/complained about not feeling good/wanting to go home/being hot/hating people/being hungry/that my head hurt. But I did realize in the car that you can rearrange SLUT and get LUST, so that totally counts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Start Again

Sorry for the radio silence. I came down with a exhausting case of sinusitis which was undiagnosed for a few weeks (I had to wait to get a CT scan scheduled). I am now on my second week of antibiotics and starting to feel somewhat normal. I even braved Target today to shop from a list I made over 3 weeks ago.

I am, of course, happy for the antibiotics but am also plying myself with any and all probiotics I can think of: yogurt, Sauerkraut, miso, etc. to stave off the dreaded yeast infection that usually comes with a round of antibiotics.

I look forward to healing up and returning to the pool (I was too exhausted to take the last 4 swim classes). And I look forward to having fun in the snow when it begins to fall on our mountains. For now I just have to focus on taking it one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Find Your Own Pace

Last night was my first swimming class and it went fairly well. As suspected, the instructor wasn't stellar, but I wasn't exactly helping him out much either. Being in a new pool, wearing swim goggles for the first time, my fear of hitting my head on the gutter, and my usual panic because I don't know how to breathe when doing laps all played a part.

He literally had us jump into the deep end and start swimming. After doing two lengths of the pool (in my herky jerky -- when the heck do I breathe?) style, my heart was pounding out my chest. I actually had a little moment of panic, because I thought my blood sugar was plummeting. I had my Gatorade within reach on the pool deck, but once I caught my breathe, I felt much better. And never had that problem again.

He gave me pointers on things, but really nothing could be truly fixed until I mastered breathing, which he didn't go over.

So, after class I stayed at the pool for another hour and practiced what Janet Evan's suggests in her book, Total Swimming : blowing bubbles out of my nose while my face was under water. I did this for about ten minutes before it started to feel normal.

Then I realized that since I had never swum with goggles before, I was closing my eyes. So I practiced opening my eyes underwater. All of a sudden a world of tips and tricks opened up to me. That line on the bottom of the pool is for you to follow, and the "T" shaped mark at the end of the line warns you that the wall is approaching.

And then I spent 15 minutes teaching myself how to do a flip turn. I looked like an idiot, and I got water up my nose every time, but eventually I was able to swim to the wall, do a flip turn, and continue swimming. Success!! (Note: Out of the 6 other adults doing laps, I was the only one doing flip turns.)

Today I woke up relatively sore all over (especially in my upper back) but started the morning watching swimming videos on YouTube and learned a few more pointers that I look forward to putting in to practice.

Part of me wants to go back to the pool tonight to practice, but a bigger part of me knows it is smarter to rest up for tomorrow night.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Get Your Feet Wet

In my ongoing quest to improve my aerobic activity and to try new things, I have decided to take swimming lessons at a nearby community center. The price and location is right and I look forward to learning more so that I can add swimming to my week.

In addition to the classes, I have requested Janet Evan's book, Total Swimming, from the library. It includes various workouts and tips for improving.




I think I need to purchase a swim cap and goggles, but other than that I should be ready to go! Classes start September 24th but I might do some practice swims before then. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Find Your Way Back To Normal

On Sunday, I finally got the rush of energy that had been eluding me ever since my Mom's Total Hip Replacement surgery. It took 20 days to feel normal again. The only problem was, it was midnight. I tossed and turned and eventually moved to the guest room so my husband could have a chance at getting a good night's sleep.

Other signs I am feeling back to normal:

* Worked out for 15-60 minutes for the last 3 mornings
* Scheduled a massage
* Emailed/called friends
* Looked at job postings

and most importantly ...

With all the fetching I did for my Mom, my normal activity burn went up so much that I was having two low blood sugars a day (this happens on European vacations too). This got me thinking: I sit way too much. And so now that I am home full time again, I am trying to move around more. Sometimes I sit on the exercise ball when in front of the computer, or take frequent walking breaks and I've decided to add swimming lessons and other activities to my evenings. Activity generally makes me a happy person, so I can only imagine that more of it will make me even happier.

Note: At 3 weeks post-op my Mom is doing great. She can walk around the house unassisted most of the morning-afternoon and only uses the walker when tired. We have ventured outside most days and have even found a safe way to walk to one of her favorite restaurants.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Get The Right Tool

It's been almost 2 weeks since my Mom had her Total Hip Replacement (THR) surgery. There were a few bumps along the road, and she has a few more weeks of healing ahead of her, but it should be all smooth sailing now.

One of the major things I learned through this experience is to get the right tool for the job. But that sometimes you don't know what that tool is until you are actually in the thick of the situation.

For example, my Mom picked out her walker weeks before surgery. Because of this she was able to get one that was tall enough to fit her, and skinny enough to get through the doors of the condo. But she also needed a raised toilet seat, and something to use in her walk in shower. Her sister sent a raised toilet seat and Mom had some crazy idea that we could haul a lawn chair into the shower and then she would put the toilet seat on that chair so that she could take a shower safely. But I was having none of that.

After watching what the nurses used, a commode, I had the brilliant idea to just buy one of those, no matter the price. Turns it out it was only $60, was pre-assembled, and works great for both the toilet and the shower. It has been so great, I would have paid $1k for it.

So it's been a mixture of preparedness and adapting on the fly. And as I said, it seems to be working out well.

Thanks for all your happy thoughts and well wishes for my family.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Step Up

My mother is having Total Hip Replacement (THR) surgery on Monday. It's been about 3 months since the MRI was read and in that time we have gone doctor shopping, walker and raised toilet seat shopping, and to a 2 1/2 hour pre-op class at the hospital. I also introduced her to the wonders of narcotics (doctor approved of course).

My Aunt has come in from Georgia to help out, my brother has signed up for shifts for the hospital and meal drop offs, and my father has acquired one of the most valuable items so far: a free parking space in downtown Portland for the next 5 weeks.

I have created a schedule, assigned meal drop offs, alerted friends and family, and helped set up her guest room so it is walker friendly. And because I am not working and do not have any children, I plan on staying over as much and as long as she needs me. My mother, her friends, and some of my family members keep saying how wonderful it is that I am doing so much. But with my availability, and the memories of my own pre-operation terror and post-operation exhaustion still fresh in my mind, I can only answer, "How could I not?" Healing is a huge emotional and physical drain.

If I can take away even just 5% percent of her other worries, I consider it time well spent.

Please do me a favor and send some positive thoughts her way. Thank you.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Improve On Your Improved P90X

About two weeks ago, I started up with P90X again. During the workout I felt great, and I felt a little sore but great the next day. But the day after that my back seized up and I couldn't get out of bed for a while (like a turtle stuck on it's back).

My first thought when it comes to my back is always, "Did I break another disc?" Since I have no idea how I did it the first time (2009) I don't know what not to do to keep it from happening again. But both my legs worked just fine, so I calmed down and worked on loosening up my back.

So it turns out either:
A) being able to do an hour of full body strength training is not the same as being able to do an hour of strength training on just your chest and back.

or

B) That popping sensation I felt in my back when I attempted some of the exercises in the Ab Ripper DVD is not a good thing. (Remember that in addition to breaking my L5 disc, I have a bonus 6th vertebra so things are wacky in my backy.)

I've only been able to do light aerobics for the past two weeks but my back is much better. So tomorrow, I begin again. But this time I will only do 1/2 the DVD and will add more time as the weeks progress. And I'm never doing the Ab Ripper DVD again.

Update: I successfully did 30 minutes of the P90X Chest and Back DVD on Monday and woke up in only medium soreness on Wednesday. After about an hour of stretching I was also able do 30 minutes of the P90X Shoulders and Biceps DVD. Go me!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Improve your P90X

When my dear friend gave me her P90X workout set I was so excited. The program looked great, and it was very organized. But then I had to listen to Tony Horton give instructions and it drove me insane. When I am lifting weights I want to focus on what I am doing, not listen to the babbling instructor who is making fun of the other exercisers and doing impressions.

So I tried the "CUE ONLY" feature which helps a lot. You see his lips moving but you don't hear him unless he is about to tell you what to do. But the problem was, I had already memorized his babble, so I could still hear it in my head.

But I think I have solved the problem and am adding some P90X back into my workout regimen.

So far, these things have been key:

1. It has been so long since I've last done it, I have forgotten what he is babbling about.

2. I use the "CUE and SILENCE" feature and play my own music instead.

3. I follow along with the exercise sheets and will stop playing the actual DVD once I have memorized the moves.

4. I only do P90X 3 days a week (strength training) to cut down my exposure to Tony's babble.

5. I am already used to doing an hour of weights, which is how long the DVD program is.

I started this plan on Monday and only told him to shut up once, so that is great progress. And it helps to know I only need to listen to him for a few weeks until I memorize the exercises. Plus, my back and chest were burning up that night, so I also got a good workout.

Wish me luck (again)!



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bag It Up

I had been drooling over the sandbag workouts featured in Men's Health Magazine and BodyRock but didn't want to pay $100 or so for the fancy sandbag. So I made my own.

1 medium size military grade duffel bag 19L x 10W ($10)
4, 7 lb. bags of fragrance free kitty litter ($1 each)

= my $14, 28 lb sandbag

I think the bag might be larger in size than a comparable one with sand, but the price was right, I didn't have to measure anything or divide it up and place it into separate bags. And I don't intend on doing any of the fast paced moves where you swing the bag around. We all know that I will just end up smacking myself in the head. It was so fast and easy I was able to test it out in the parking lot of the store.


I am slowly adding it to my HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout. As I have stated before, you don't always have to jump high in order to add intensity. I do side lunges (hugging it to my chest) or front/back lunges (holding it on my shoulders) and it makes my heart rate skyrocket.

It's always fun to have a new piece of exercise equipment and it's extra fun when it is dirt cheap.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Get Milk, Get Muscles

Within the last few months, because I am trying to build more muscle*, I have upped my protein intake. I try to vary my sources throughout the day (lean meats, beans, cheese, soy, Greek yogurt, eggs, fish and nuts) but sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with a quick meal that hits the spot. So I started investigating protein powders. I will ignore the whey protein vs. casein protein debate raging and just point out that the protein powder usually tastes so bad on it's own that some sort of sugar or sugar substitute must be added.

In addition, there are usually all sorts of gnarly things added to the powder. In my quest to eat as much real food as possible, my need to eat lower Glycemic index food, and my desire to not go bankrupt from buying what is essentially a waste product, I have decided that protein powder is not for me.

But the ease of a quick protein shake is hard to beat, so what did I find instead? Milk. Yep, just regular old 1% milk (soy milk works too). I often have it plain, but I also appreciate chocolate every once in awhile. Of the various chocolate sources I reviewed, I went with Rich Chocolate Ovaltine. It has the least amount of ingredients, it is easier to measure than a syrup, and it has regular sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup (which spikes my blood sugar less).

And chocolate milk is currently the darling of the nutrition/fitness world. Have you seen all the Got chocolate milk? ads chock full of Olympic hopefuls?

So go for simple protein: milk. Just make sure to leave me at least a gallon per week!


* Yes, it is working!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Keep That Heart Rate Up

When doing aerobics, achieving a certain heart rate is key. But what if you can't do high impact aerobics because it hurts your knees, back or joints?

Well, there are four other ways to increase heart rate while still being low impact.

1. Increasing speed

2. Adding weight

3. Adding an incline

4. Adding a decline

For example, start off with a basic exercise: marching in place. After a few weeks/days of this exercise, your body will adapt and you will find it harder to get the heart rate you are after. So you must make the exercise harder.

You can:

1. March faster (Increase speed)

2. Hold dumbbells or other weights in your hands while marching (Adding weight)

3. Walk up stairs or step on to a bench (Adding an incline)

4. Turn your marches into front lunges (Adding a decline)

 Heart rate monitors are key for figuring out which movements keep your heart rate up, so wear one every time!

Eventually, you will begin to combine the moves: marching faster while holding the weights, holding the weights while stepping onto a bench, or holding weights while doing front lunges. When you have gone through all the combinations you can do the final one: step up with knee raise and curl.

So don't be frustrated when your low impact cardio doesn't get your heart rate up, just change it up by 1) increasing speed 2) adding weight 3) adding an incline or 4) adding a decline.

Trust me, your knees and heart will thank you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Step Away From The Screen

I cannot believe that just a year ago, I would spend hours and hours online. I would often be doing "legit" stuff but a lot of my time was spent updating my Twitter account or checking out Facebook. Deleting those accounts and stepping away has been so extremely peaceful for me.

In addition to deleting those accounts, I try to spend as little time on the computer as possible. After all, I find I get my best ideas away from the screen: doing dishes, working out, taking a shower, walking/sitting outside, or just sitting quietly.

So I urge you to step away from the screen (TV, computer, phone) for a while and just be. You are more important than your follower count or your klout score. Honor yourself by actually spending some time with yourself.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Get That Grill Going

If you look at the calendar, you will know it is time to get the grill out. I will admit that Martin and I have not touched ours (except to rake leaves and apples from behind it) in about two years.

But my cousin Mike Vrobel* aka DadCooksDinner is visiting from Ohio, and just one look at his cooking blog and his new book on Rotisserie grilling has me salivating!

Since we recently returned from Germany, where I learned that I do in fact like sauerkraut, Mike's Pan Grilled Bratwurst and Sauerkraut speaks to me immediately, as does the recipe for Grilled Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw.

I look forward to delving deeper into Mike's blog to look for further grilling inspiration.




*My oldest cousin, the one famous for picking me up and bringing me inside once when I got hurt because of another one of my cousins. He has no memory of this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Imagine A Meetup

As much as I like talking to myself all day (I'm quite entertaining), I've been thinking it might be good to get out of the house once in a while. So, I perused Meetup.com for local groups that might interest me. No luck.

But here are some groups that I wished existed:

1. The Endorphin Exchange
Endorphins are nature's feel good drug. We would explore various healthy ways to tap in to our own endorphins: exercise, food, acupuncture, target shooting, laughter, etc.

2. Flexible Fitness
Each month we would swap fitness equipment (BOSU ball, sandbags, kettle bells, TRX, etc.) and fitness programs, talk about what we learned and what gear we'd like to conquer next.

3. The Suzy (or Steven) Homemakers
Each session we would learn a new "home craft": baking bread, making pickles, cooking a turkey, etc. Things we would have learned if they still taught home economics in school.

4. Keep Your Motor Running
Sexual health is very important, and for many, arousal begins with a visual. We would suggest websites, books, magazines, actors, and local events or places where fine male "specimens" could be found.

I don't expect to see anything like these anytime soon, but hey, if you hear of anything, let me know!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Share What You've Learned

I apologize for the absence. Apparently seasonal allergies are very "in" this year, and lucky me, I get to follow the trend. I have one week of medication under my belt and am starting to feel like my normal, crazy self.

On our trip to Germany I learned some things:

1. Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard has a zing to it. And I like it! And if you take some packets with you from the airport restaurant you can add zing to your in flight meals.

2. Out of Portland, OR (PDX), Nuremberg, Germany (NUE) and Amsterdam, the female security staff at Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport give the most, shall we say, thorough, pat down.

3. Always, always, always bring your bathing suit when you travel. You might be staying a mere 30 minutes from a fancy, dancy, hot springs pool-a-palooza!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Get What You Give

I have been on more job interviews in the last two years than I have ever been on in my entire life. What always puzzles me are companies that treat job applicants badly either by ignoring them, miscommunication, dishonesty, or just plain rudeness. It baffles me that companies forget that every applicant is an opportunity to create a brand evangelist. Even if they aren't offered the job, the applicant can come away feeling respected and therefor positive about that company.

If you are a manager or in the HR department of your company, I implore you to remember these things when dealing with job applicants. Treat each other with honesty and respect, and you will get it back in droves.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Forget Faux Fitness Magazines

I recently decided to cancel my subscriptions to Shape, Fitness, and Women's Health magazine. And I have three basic reasons for doing so.

1. The majority of the magazine is devoted to shopping/hair/make-up
2. The models shown are not realistic and tend to all look the same
3. The workouts are not hard core enough

I will renew my favorite fitness magazine, Oxygen (which has solid workouts and crazy fit fitness models), and I have added a subscription for Men's Health. MH has solid, inventive workouts, has simple recipes and since I will never, ever, look like the models in the magazine, I can just enjoy them as eye candy, I mean, instructional aides.

I believe in doing what works best for me. What works best for you when it comes to fitness inspiration?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crank Up Your Body

We will be leaving for a German holiday soon, and I don't want to leave my fitness program behind. It helps my muscles, my heart and my mind. So in preparation for our departure, I have created and practiced a quickie routine I can do every day of our trip, if I so wish.

All you need is an interval timer (my Timex Ironman T59201 watch has one) and a towel or semi-soft surface (for cushioning for push-ups, etc.).

Quick Body Crank
Warm up for 5 minutes by jogging in place/dancing around

Set the interval timer to 30 seconds and start it.

Jog in place*
Single leg burpee
Jog in place
Side leaps
Jog in place
Push-ups
Jog in place
Bicycle
Jog in place
Dancing crab

Every time the interval timer beeps, I move on to the next exercise. I do that exercise as fast as I can safely do it until the timer beeps again. I repeat this whole circuit for a total of 30 minutes. Because of the speed of these moves, I consider this a mostly aerobic workout.

I've done it inside and I also had a lot of fun doing it outside among the apple blossoms. It's fun, it's fast and it kicks my butt!



* Can be replaced with jumping jacks or marching in place depending on your energy level and/or knees.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Make Your Own Weight Vest

About a month ago, I was frustrated with the fact that my quest for fat loss kept stalling. As I lost weight, my body burned less calories, which meant I was having a harder time losing weight. If you want to constantly burn more calories, you basically need to weight more. This is often why people will wear weight vests. As I was contemplating my options for burning more calories, I realized there was another: build more muscle. And as I looked over my workouts of the past few months I was shocked to see that somehow I had transitioned to Barbie (lightweight) weights. I had gotten caught up in the fancy "core training/balance" workouts that require you to stand on one foot, thus guaranteeing I could only lift Barbie weights.

So I made the decision to begin lifting heavier weights. The kind that require me to rest for a minute between sets because they are that heavy. (I always, always err on the side of safety. )

After only a week, I started to feel a difference. My back was stronger and I immediately thought of the scene in the movie, X-Men: Origins, where Wolverine is injected with the (fictitious) metal, Adamantium.

Because I could now feel a strong network of muscles, tendons and ligaments holding me up. But, I kept snapping at my poor husband before our meals. So for the second week, I decided to add an extra 100 calories of protein to each meal of the day (400 calories+1200 calories I was already eating) and that both quelled my snapping and fed my muscles.

My weight has gone up a bit, which can be nerve racking when you have been focusing so much on wanting it to go down, but I keep reminding myself of my goal: strength and fat loss. I know for a fact that I have built muscle, because I can lift more weight than I could in the beginning. And I can see it in my biceps, shoulders and back. I seem to be losing weight in my back and butt, as there are now craters where fat used to be.

My hypothesis is that eventually, I will lose enough fat so that my total weight goes down to the range I have been shooting for. I don't know how long that will take, so I am focusing on enjoying the current positive changes in my body.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Jack Up Your Jello

One of my secret weapons against hunger is my "Jacked Up Jello". Essentially, I have added a fiber supplement to it, which gives it more staying power. I have one at night and it helps me stick to my caloric goals.

You will need:

1 0.60 oz size of Sugar Free Jello (it makes 8, 1/2 cup servings)
1 cup clear soluble fiber supplement powder(ingredient=Dextrin)*
3 cups of boiling water
4 cups of cold water**
7 containers/cups to hold the individual portions (or more if you want smaller portions)

Dump Jello packet and soluble fiber supplement in to a bowl. Mix with a fork or whisk. Add 3 cups of boiling water and stir well until dissolved. Add 4 cups of cold water and stir. Divide evenly in to 7 containers and refrigerate.

And now you have a some Jacked Up Jello.


* You may want to work up to this amount. Try adding 1/4 cup first, then experiment to see what your body can take. Save money by buying the store brand.

** Yes this is more water than the package suggests, but I have found I can stretch it out this far without dire consequences.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Go Back In Time

I have made a lot of product/service recommendations over the years. And I was interested to see if I still feel the same way about the products as I did back then. So let's go in to the time machine to re-visit 3 suggestions I have made.

1. Coromega Omega3 Squeeze, originally suggested in November 2011, I still love this product! I really do think it helps with joint pain (my pre-rain storm aches and pain have pretty much disappeared). I tried to double the dose, but didn't find much of a benefit, so I went back to one squeeze packet a day.

Update: June 2012 I didn't bring my Coromega with me on vacation and noticed that after 4 days my knee was killing me! It took about 4 days back home for the fish oil to do it's thing again. So yes, this works.

2. Townhouse Flip Side Pretzel Crackers, suggested in April 2008. As noted in the original post, I had a hard time resisting these crackers and they had little nutritional value, so I stopped buying them.

3. SwapADVD.com, originally suggested in July 2009. This site continues to be a winner. I just got a new (to me) exercise DVD last week.

So there you have it, 3 randomly selected suggestions and their updates. You are welcome.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just Make It Stop (Update!)

It's been about 3 months since I switched birth control pills to stop crazy mood swings, food cravings and irritability and I'm happy to say there is only one side effect: happiness.

Yep, that's right. While the new pill does raise my blood sugar (so did the old one) everything else about it is fabulous. I was able to delete the "Sad Saturday" and "Wallop Wednesdays" warnings from my calendar. And I haven't put the skull and cross bones WARNING! magnet I created on the fridge (to remind my husband to be cautious around me) even once!

And I have decided that switching birth control pills is the second best medical decision of my life. #1 will always be going on an insulin pump, and #3 is taking fish oil. (I don't consider my emergency back surgery due to magically breaking my L6 disk a real choice, so it doesn't make the list.)

I had been scared to change because I thought the devil I knew was better than the one I didn't. Boy was I so very wrong. I'm glad I took that risk.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Soup It Up

In the winter, nothing warms me up and fills me up for lunch quite like soup. I have two creations that I go back to time and time again, and I thought I'd share them with you.

Curry It Up!

Add
1 cup Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup (I like Pacific Natural Food) and 1/2 cup lightly rinsed chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) to a microwave safe bowl and microwave until hot (or heat on the stove in a saucepan). Add curry powder to taste.

Add a serving of a whole grain side: slice of pumpernickel bread, whole grain tortilla chips, etc.

The beans add protein and fiber to the meal and pair nicely with the soup. Adding the curry takes the flavor up a notch without adding any calories, fat, or salt. It makes me warm, full, and has a nice sweet flavor to it.


Tasty Tomato & Tuna
1 cup Progresso High Fiber Creamy Tomato Basil Soup heated on the stove or in the microwave

and

3 oz of chunk white tuna, drained but otherwise plain piled on to 1 small tortilla or slice of whole grain bread topped with 1 slice cheddar cheese and toasted in the toaster. Top with fresh or dried basil.

The soup is a bit sweet for me, so the plain tuna evens it out. And again, it leaves me warm and full, and happy.

I also often follow up the warm portion of my lunch with a green salad or raw veggies.

These lunches are nutritious, easy, fast and they fill me up. All qualities I am looking for in my food.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Put It Back On Your List

In my purse, I keep a list of food choices for when I am out and about. This way, I can still make good food choices even at restaurants. (They also make various smart phone apps that do the same thing.)

But many times there are places that I cannot justify going to. Either the "food" is so far removed from actual food that I don't want to eat it, or the calories in the meals are just too high to bother. Two restaurants were on my "No Go!" list. Until now.

The Olive Garden

With superhuman size portions and blood sugar skyrocketing bread sticks, the last time I went, I tried to order off the kid's menu just to find something reasonable. But my waiter didn't cooperate. So I haven't been back in 3 years. But last week, friends wanted to go, so I checked out the nutrition facts again and was delighted to see something that looked yummy and met my caloric needs:
Venetian Apricot Chicken


At only 400 calories (dinner portion), and with two veggies, it was a winner for me. I asked for my own salad (dressing on the side saves 160 calories, skipping the cheese and croutons saves even more) and skipped the bread sticks (150 calories) and saved my hunger for the chicken. Which was really, really good.

Kenny and Zukes

A Portland, Oregon institution, Kenny and Zukes is a Jewish style deli that offers enormous portions. Martin and I tried sharing something once, and it was still too big for us. And afterwards, I felt bloated and ill. Recently, after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, chef, Ken Gordon has created a "Healthier Options" portion of the menu. Trimmed down and full of whole grains and veggies, these choices are much more my style. And the nutrition facts are listed on their website.(Yay!)

I intend on rewarding them for their forward thinking menu by stopping by soon.

Update: On June 9, 2012 I finally got my butt over to Kenny & Zukes. The healthy burger was no longer on the menu (because no one was buying it) so I had the Chicken Toastie instead. It was really, really good! My husband had the Pastrami, and our friend had the turkey club. And they said the sandwiches were excellent.

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While very firmly on my "Go!" list, Chipotle has recently given me even more reason to like it by adding brown rice to their menu.

Things are getting better out there, we nutrition wise consumers just need to keep asking for it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Give It What It Wants

I have noticed that after I am done eating, my body wants to keep chewing. I have eaten as slowly as possible, and have eaten appropriate portions, but my mouth wants to keep chewing. I'm often not even hungry anymore, but I still want to chew on something. I've tried drinking more water, which helps with fullness, but does nothing to satiate my desire to chew.

Until now ...

Orbit White bubblemint sugarfree gum.



I usually pick a traditional mint flavored gum, but this has a burst of sweetness that I really like. The feeling of "cracking" the gum open, along with the sweetness, and then the act of chewing something satisfies me every time. I've even been know to chew some before going to bed.

This one tweak has saved me on many occasions and I'm glad that I (impulse) purchased it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Go On And Play

At the recent ribbon cutting ceremony for a local silk screening equipment supplier, Ryonet, I came across some business books in their lending library that I've never read: The Red Rubber Ball series by Kevin Caroll.

The event was a lot of fun, as you can see below in the video they took:



After the event, I was able to request The Red Rubber Ball at Work from the library, and I just got a copy yesterday. And I'm glad I did. It is chock full of inspiring stories of how people use games and play to elevate their lives both in and outside of work.

My favorite quote is from George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN:

"A lot of stuff happens in life and in business. You have to deal with adversity. I believe in turning things into positives."

Along with the stories, each chapter has a list of resources: books, articles, web-sites and movies that support the notion of play. For a resource junkie like me, I am now giddy with excitement to explore all the things Caroll listed.

Seeing the red rubber ball on the cover of the book reminded me that we actually have one here at home (I call it a kickball) and I was inspired to add it to my life. While it can certainly make you smile (OK, me) just by seeing it, I decided I would add it to my workout. Placed between my knees while doing double crunches, it forces me to use my muscles even more. And when the weather gets nicer, I can make up all sorts of drills with it:

1) bounce it against the house
2) do 10 jumping jacks
3) bounce it against the house
4) jump rope for 30 seconds, etc.

Cultivate playfulness by engaging in play and surrounding yourself with fun, positive, people. The benefits are numerous.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Be Your Own Kind of Princess

I recently read, Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter. She covers many subtopics under the question of Is the current pink Cinderella culture good for our children? but she has a strong distaste for the Disney Princesses, and won't allow the movies in the house. The author's main beef with the Disney Princesses is that they don't do anything. They basically wait around for their prince charming to come. She even states that all Sleeping Beauty does, is sleep.

To this I cry foul. For I have many childhood memories of re-enacting singing and dancing scenes from Sleeping Beauty while listening to it on my record player. I believe my mother found me on top of my desk belting out, Once Upon A Dream, more than once. I would never deny my children the magnificent animation, the humor and the magical music encompassed in that movie. As for the sexist story line, well folks, that what we call a teachable moment. But buy my child all the mass merchandised Disney Princess garb? Never. If they want a "princess" outfit, we can make one. I want them to use their imaginations, not just buy what the marketers are selling. In the end, the author comes to the conclusion that children ultimately model themselves after their parents, so if we want our children to be strong, brave, smart and not overly concerned with how they look, we need to not be either.

I see nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be pampered, wear nice things and helped out with things. Heck, the whole point of the TV show, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, was letting straight men feel pampered and taken care of. The problem comes when one's only value is beauty and all life choice is taken away.

So be your own kind of princess (or prince): be generous but expect respect, take good care of yourself. Solicit help from others, but know that you are ultimately the one in charge of your life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Find Your Power

As I was doing my workout this morning (TurboFire) I thought to myself, "I feel so powerful!" And it's true. I feel powerful when I workout. My muscles, lungs, and heart are pumping and I'm doing good things for my body now and for the future. When I do weight training, I'm strengthening my weak spots and increasing overall power. I'm building myself up for when I need to perform. And I'm teaching myself that perseverance through challenges (increasing the weights I'm lifting) makes me more powerful.

When I think about guns, I feel powerful. Not because they are a potentially lethal weapon (I drive one of those every day) but because to me, they represent a fear that I not only overcame but actually turned in to a skill.(The fact that this skill floods me with endorphins when I use it is just icing on the cake.)

Life is full of surprises and challenges, and knowing that we are strong & powerful, both mentally and physically is what will get us through.

So, where do you find your source of power? Are you tapping in to it everyday?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Turn Off TV Land


I am always on the lookout for funny, light comedies. But it seems to be harder and harder to find them these days. Especially since I have certain standards: women positive, not homophobic. I was watching two on TV Land that I have now since abandoned for violating these standards.

Hot In Cleveland
The premise of the show, that the ladies move to Cleveland, OH because the men have a more reasonable standard of beauty there than in Los Angeles, CA, always gave me pause. But I gave them the benefit of the doubt, because I like the actresses so much. Well that ended the other day when I saw episode #310, Life With Lucci, I was horrified, and I finally decided to pull the plug for good.

Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) is asked to speak at a conference in Bermuda, and thus has bought some bathing suits. She and the other ladies lament how mean and judgemental other women are when it comes to looks, and then Melanie says she wants to make all the other women there hate her because she looks so good. What? Really?? You are going to complain about how mean other women can be (sadly, quite true) and then contribute to it! No way, I'm not watching this anymore. I don't want that attitude anywhere around me.

The Exes
I only watched a few episodes of this one before I ditched it too. It was episode #108, A Very Wrong Engagement, that put the nail in the coffin. Two of the male stars are forced to sleep in the same bed because of space issues. Tired, played out, homophobic jokes are made to show how uncomfortable the men are. It wasn't funny when Friends did it, it still isn't. And frankly, let's be more creative, shall we?

So I've add Hot In Cleveland and The Exes to the pile of TV shows that I will not watch.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just Make It Stop

I realized a few years ago, that I am a stress eater. A conflict would come up, and I would immediately crave chocolate. Eating the chocolate didn't make the stress go away, and ended up leaving me with more body weight than I wanted. I've addressed stress by adding monthly massages, daily exercise, and daily quiet time, and have been able to stop normal stress eating.

But there are still two other occasions in life when I eat not for fuel or pleasure, but to fill a void. One is low blood sugar reactions. When my blood sugar dips below a certain level, all the alarm bells in my head go off, and they all scream, "EAT NOW! AND KEEP EATING" I'm only supposed to eat 15 grams of carbohydrates, wait 15 minutes, test my blood sugar again and eat another 15 grams if needed. Most of the time I can stay in control when my body goes bonkers, but sometimes I break and end up eating everything I see in front of me. I taste nothing, but my body is momentarily satiated, and the alarm bells eventually quiet down and I feel safe again. But then my blood sugar spikes from all the food and I fight to get it down again for hours. And I've added hundreds of unnecessary calories to my diet, which only makes losing weight that much harder.

The other occasion is the week before my period. Because of the dips in various hormones the week before my period, I feel miserable, and end up losing my resolve to only eat a certain number of calories a day. I crave food, and while I try my best to keep it in check, there always ends up being a night where I am dipping something into a jar of Nutella and eating with abandon.

Besides not wanting to eat those extra calories, I also feel miserable. Once I started tracking what was actually going on, it was glaringly obvious that the PMS was causing a lot of stress. So I finally decided to do something about it. My previous birth control pill (to treat my endometriosis) is meant to mimic a normal hormonal pattern, the hormones increase up each week, with a drop the week before my period (triphasal) and that drop is where the torture comes in.

So, per my doctor's gentle suggestion (for the past 16 months) I've moved to a monophasic pill (one level of each hormone) that I will take 365 days a year. No drop, no withdrawal bleeding. And hopefully a nice smooth hormonal ride for me. Even just starting the new pill last week has reduced my stress levels, and I look forward to not being tortured every month, and to not eating food that I really don't need or want.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chocolotize Your Fiber

Yeah, yeah, chocolotize isn't a word. Well it is now. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, fiber is our friend. It cleans out our digestive systems, it keeps us full longer and it can even help prevent spikes in blood sugars due to high glycemic index foods. I'm always on the look-out for easy ways to add more to my diet. I eat lots of beans, fruit, whole grains (popcorn included) and dark leafy greens but once in awhile I want some chocolate.

On a total PMS related impulse purchase, I bought the new Fiber One Chocolate Fudge Brownies, and I'm glad I did. They are fantastic! Keep in mind that they are only 90 calories each, so they are quite small, so you need to eat them slowly and savor them, but I really think they are great. (I've re-bought them 4 times now.) I don't eat them on a daily basis, I save them for when I need a chocolate fix.



I had been buying a chocolate fiber bar at Trader Joe's, but the Fiber Ones are better in at least 3 ways:

1. I don't have to trek 30 minutes to get them
2. They taste better (more chocolaty)
3. They are labeled individually with their nutritional values, so I don't have to get out the sharpie and do it myself.

Seriously, give them a try. But remember, they are SMALL so go slowly!

Note #1: Nutrition info for one brownie: 90 calories, 3g fat, 18 carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 1 g protein

Note #2: In general, I prefer to eat food that is as natural as possible, but if the food scientists have added a benefit that I like, and it tastes good, I will often go for it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Move It In Vancouver

Even though Vancouver, WA, the town where I live, is surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lakes it's not exactly know for being the mecca of fitness. Most of those accolades go to Portland, OR a mere 15 minute drive away. So I'm always excited when I see a new and interesting fitness related business open in Vancouver. Here are three that I recently discovered and am looking forward to trying out.

1. G6 Airpark

"G6 Airpark is an indoor trampoline park in Vancouver, WA with wall-to-wall trampolines, an open jump arena, a dodge ball court, a basketball dunk station, a gymnastics 'trick' zone, and a separate jump area for children under 8."

I have fond memories of trampolines. One summer, K., a popular girl at school befriended me and we spent every afternoon bouncing around on the Olympic size trampoline in her back yard. Plus, there were boys. ;)

I'm thinking that a bounce on the trampoline will be the perfect foil for an exhausting day of job searching.

2. TRX Training at Inferno Fitness and Sports

If I were to start traveling for business, or we moved to a house with sturdier door frames, I would buy the TRX. I would want to take some classes first for inspiration.

3. The Source Climbing Center

A sick looking indoor rock climbing gym in downtown Vancouver, WA. Need I say more?

So get out there and move Vancouver!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Water Two Birds With One Stone

Two of the many stars that must align in order for weight loss (and general good health & happiness) to occur are

1. Ample water ingestion (drinking at least 64 oz)
2. Increasing day to day movement (getting up every few hours from your chair and walking around)

Well, over the past week I have been diligently drinking at least 68 oz* of water each day (before 5pm, so that I can limit my nocturnal pee breaks to just one). A funny thing happens when you drink that much water... you have to get up and pee every two hours! So there you go, two birds with one stone!



* Rather than counting glasses I've consumed, I just fill up a 2 liter bottle with water and some highly diluted flavoring (Crystal Light, Pomegranate juice, etc.) and work on emptying that baby by 5 pm. (I drink other, unflavored water during my workouts.) Once it's empty, I refill it for the next day.

The last time I tried to drink more water, I did see a significant movement in weight, but I made the process too complicated and quickly stopped.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stick It, Stupid

Our washing machine spins at a surprisingly fast rate. We often expect it to either take off in the air or "walk" right out the door. Because I keep a folded towel on top of it (to keep it from getting scratched) I have to pick that towel up off of the floor every time I do a load of laundry, which is really annoying. We've had the washer for about 7 years, I do about 3 loads of laundry a week, so that means, I've picked that towel up roughly 1092 times.

I've tried putting things on top of the towel, to keep it from falling off, but then I can't use the top of the washer, and that item just lands on the floor too. I was scheming up a plan to attach magnets to the towel, when I realized I never tried the easiest solution: tape. I always assumed it wouldn't work. So I took my handy blue painter's tape, formed it in a loop, and stuck the underside of the towel to the top of the washer.

It hasn't moved since.

Moral of the story: blue painter's tape is MAGIC! (Plus that thing they always say about assuming.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Have A Blast

WARNING: I am going to talk about firearms. If you don't like firearms, feel free to look at these pictures instead.

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Although I originally earned my NRA Basic Pistol Course certificate with a higher caliber gun (.40/.45) I have spent most of my time with .22s and have become used to the ping! sound of the shot, the small amount of kick from the firearm when the explosion happens inside, and the general zen like feeling I get after shooting a few magazines (10 bullets=magazine).

But when we went to the range on Sunday, my husband decided to rent a Glock 19 9mm(this is higher caliber than a .22). When it was my turn, I checked my eyes and ears (safety glasses, hearing protection) got into the stance I had learned, aimed and fired off the gun. The explosion was so much bigger than I was used to, that I literally went, "Whhhhhhhhhhooooo!" after shooting it. Which of course made all the guys to the left of me laugh their heads off. I had to put the gun down for a bit to catch my breath and then shot another round. Every time I shot it, it felt like the explosion inside the gun was traveling down through my hands to my feet, then back up from my feet all the way to my head. And frankly, I felt a little scared. After about 4 shots, I had to step back and just stop because I was so overwhelmed with adrenaline.

After about 10 minutes of stepping away and catching my breath, this little voice inside me said, "Again! Again!" So I went back up to line and shot one more time. This time, I felt the explosion travel down through my hands to my feet, then back up again, but this time I started laughing. I had to put the gun down because I was laughing so much. It was like a shot of morphine to the blood stream. Pure pleasure.

Apparently, not everyone feels the same way I do when shooting, the range safety officer looked at me like I was crazy, when I tried to explain the feelings I got. My husband can't relate either, so I will just have to enjoy my endorphin high all by myself.

Monday morning the first thing I thought of when I woke up was that Glock 19.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Don't Be A Human Pincushion

Here's a basic day in my life as a Type 1 diabetic*.

BASIC DAY

6:30 am
, Wake up, check blood sugar (prick arm/finger with lancet)
Evaluate blood sugar: Too high? Guess at the reason why. Too low? Guess at the reason why. If over 270, or below 80, I must delay normal exercise routine until I get it lower/higher.

7:15 am, If blood sugar was O.K., determine whether or not I will be doing anaerobic or aerobic exercise. If doing anaerobic, must take 1 unit of insulin via pump before exercising. Disconnect from pump.

8:15 am Must re-connect pump within an hour of taking it off, or blood sugar levels will rise.
8:20 am Re-check blood sugar
8:30 am Disconnect pump for shower, reconnect ASAP
8:45 am Determine carbohydrates in breakfast (using measuring cups, scales, guide books or nutrition info on package), take appropriate amount of insulin via pump

12:00 pm
Check blood sugar. Evaluate number, take more insulin if needed.
12:10 pm Determine carbohydrates in lunch (using measuring cups, scales, guide books or nutrition info on package), take appropriate amount of insulin via pump

4:45 pm Check blood sugar. Evaluate number, take more insulin if needed.
5:00 pm Determine carbohydrates in lunch (using measuring cups, scales, guide books or nutrition info on package), take appropriate amount of insulin via pump

7:30 pm Determine carbohydrates in evening snack (using measuring cups, scales, guide books or nutrition info on package), take appropriate amount of insulin via pump

9:00 pm- 6:30 pm
If I wake up to use bathroom, force myself to take blood sugar and adjust as needed.

But I hardly ever have a basic day, because I must factor in many variables:
New/more intense exercise can cause a low blood sugar
Illness may cause higher blood sugars
Miscalculations of carbohydrates can cause high blood sugars
Stress can cause high blood sugars
The week before my period often causes high blood sugars
The day of my period can cause low blood sugars
Over treating a low blood sugar can cause a high blood sugar
Missing an insulin dose can cause a high blood sugar
Taking too much insulin can cause a low blood sugar
My insulin pump site must be changed out every three days or it will heal over
I must take back up insulin, batteries, and food with me if I leave the house
I have to change the battery on my pump every month
I have to change the batteries in my blood sugar meter every 3 months
If I have bubbles in my tubing, I may have a high blood sugar
If I leave my pump in the bathroom while I take a shower the insulin in the tubing will go bad

And on, and on, and on ...

So with a incurable disease often described as a roller coaster, I do my best to find some balance.

I know I make being diabetic look fun & awesome, but I really don't recommend it. Avoid it at all costs, or at the very least, take mine.


*Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar but arrived at by differently. In addition, Type 1 has no cure, while Type 2 may be reversed with weight loss and diet changes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Be A Johnson Junkie

I am truly stunned with how much I love Chalene Johnson, creator and star of Turbo Jam, Turbo Fire, ChaLeanExtreme, and author of Push. Normally, once I've done a exercise DVD over and over, the instructor gets boring, repetitive and annoying, and out the DVD goes to swapadvd.com in exchange for another. But I've had Chalene's DVDs for over 6 months now and I still love them. How much do I love them? Well, I was doing the Turbo Fire 30 class and was really getting in to the punches. Chalene encouraged us to yell when we punched to the side. So, I did. I punched my right fist to my left, and yelled Bam! (I've watched too much of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3.) And then I punched my left fist INTO MY CHIN, (while yelling Bam!). I stopped for a moment, made sure I wasn't bleeding and then I KEPT GOING!

Even more extraordinary? I can say without a doubt that I would have happily paid full price for it ($140).

That pretty much says it all folks. I am a Chalene Johnson junkie.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ditch The Dextrose

If you saw my grocery cart at the store, you would probably be quite confused. While 90% of my cart is filled with fruit, dark chocolate, whole grains, yogurt, lean meats and veggies, I also often have Sweetarts, Gatorade/Powerade* and candy fruit slices. You might just assume I have a sweet tooth, but these items are actually for medical purposes only. Because I have Type 1 diabetes, I often have low blood sugars (the fitter I get, the more I have unfortunately) and the best way to treat them is with fast acting sugars that make my blood sugars spike as fast as possible. And thus, I collect food with Dextrose in it.

Here's the irony of the situation. What do medical professionals claim is one of the causes of Type 2 diabetes (a similar but different disease than Type 1)? Long term repeated stress on the organs of the body from consumption of fast acting sugars that spike the blood sugar.

While I appreciate that the cost of my "medicine" is low due to all the others that are using it for pleasure, it saddens me to know of the damage they are doing to their bodies. I suppose the not very silver lining is that if/when they are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they will then get to treat their low blood sugars with their favorite fast acting sugars. But the heart palpitations, sweaty hands, and general panic that goes along with a low blood sugar will probably ruin any pleasure of being able to eat the food.


* Gatorade has the dextrose, while Powerade has High Fructose Corn Syrup, so technically, the Gatorade works faster, but they both spike my blood sugar fast.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fight Fitness Fiction

Weight loss is just about quality calories in, and calories out, right? Burn 3500 more calories than you eat a week and you will automatically burn a pound of fat*. Easy peasy. Sort of. Tracking calories in takes work, but can be done with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Measuring cups, food scales, and calorie guidebooks can help you master this most important and powerful part of weight loss.

WARNING: I AM GOING TO COMPLAIN FOR A BIT, FEEL FREE TO SKIP TO THE BOTTOM FOR MY GOOD ENOUGH SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM.

Tracking calories burned is a whole other thing. First, you determine how much your body burns just sitting around. Well, my INSANITY booklet wants me to calculate my Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR), while my P90X booklet wants me to calculate my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) instead. Sparkpeople wants me to calculate my BMR, but TurboFire wants me to use RMR, and in Chalene Johnson's book, Push (she is the creator of TurboFire) she suggests I calculate my BMR. This is nuts! How can I determine my weight loss goals when the "experts" can't even agree on how to start!?

So, I'm forced to pick one. Let's go with BMR. Ok, so now how do I determine that? Without fancy equipment I have to use a formula decades old. Fine, fine. I will start with what is basically an estimate.

Ok, now I add how many calories I think I burn each day through exercise. Got it. Then I subtract that final number by 500. The result is how many calories a day I should eat in order to lose one pound a week.

Example:
1541 (BMR) + 300 (calories burned through exercise)=1841-500 (calorie deficit needed)=1341 calorie intake

But how do I determine calories burned during exercise? When I wear a heart rate monitor during exercise, then stick my average heart rate per total minutes in an online calculator, I get one number, when I use an online activity calculator, it comes up much higher (Example: 45 minutes of TurboFire/Kickboxing=271 calories or 582 calories.)

So now I have a guess matched with an old formula matched with another guess. It's no wonder so many people give up on weight loss. The tools aren't even consistent! Why isn't there a standard in this industry?

GOOD ENOUGH SOLUTION: Understand that weight loss principles are not an exact science. Counter this by picking the smaller of the numbers. My RMR is 1815, while my BRM is 1841, so I base everything on my RMR. As for calories burned during exercise, I choose the 271 calories. I'd rather be wrong in my favor, than against it. Track and update my numbers as needed, know that perseverance is the most important weight loss skill of all, and enjoy the god damned ride.





*This formula has also recently been called into question.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Work It Out

For about 72 hours last week, I thought I might be starting a full time job. It was not to be, but in those 72 hours I quickly revamped the legs that keep the stool of my life from tipping over.

1. Access to nutritious, filling, sustaining food

Because of time constraints, I would go back to having my smoothie in the car on the way to work. I realized that my Overnight Oatmeal and Greek yogurt would make a fantastic lunch, and identified at least one place near the office where I could get some quality food. I also made up 4 lunches (Quinoa & Edamame) and stored them in the freezer for easy access.

2. Daily morning workouts
Starting with the time I was suppose to be at the office, I worked backwards to figure out what time I had to wake up so that I could get at least 30 minutes of exercise in. I also pledged to do 15 minutes of walking each day before lunch.

3. Continuing my weight loss journey

I knew that I needed to eat a reduced amount of calories in order to lose weight, but working will burn more calories than usual. So I planned on having a 200 calorie snack at 3pm, moving dinner to 6pm and possibly eliminating my 200 calorie evening snack.

Those 72 hours were crazy but I learned a lot about my priorities and feel even more ready for when I DO begin a new job.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just Say Amen

I have read many a fitness/nutrition/diet book and they usually disappoint. I don't like the 30, 60, 90 days plans because they don't teach or reinforce healthy choices long term. And most books completely overlook the most powerful thing in weight loss/fitness: your brain. This is why I am delighted to recommend, Dr. Daniel G. Amen's book, The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Get Thinner, Smarter, Happier.




It's not particularly exciting or groundbreaking, but it groups all the things I believe about health and fitness in to one place, and stresses that you are the only one that can make any of these changes happen. He explains what salty, fat, sugary food does to your brain and body and gives you solutions to stop your cravings.

I have read many of his other books, so some of the information is a repeat, but I really think that this book has the whole package. Moreover, I appreciate his honesty: weight loss takes hard work, permanent lifestyle changes, and commitment. But it will make you feel better, have more energy and improve your mental outlook. Folks, there is no pill, powder, food or workout that will magically and effortlessly make you lose weight, gain muscle and feel energized. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be on your way to reaching your goal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fill Up With Oatmeal

I love good for me/tasting food, I love making things easier, and I love saving money. My new breakfast of choice speaks to all three: Overnight Oatmeal.

Overnight Oatmeal:
1/4 cup raw oats*
1/4 cup water
140 g frozen berries/fruit

The steps are exactly the same as for my Quinoa Fruit Cereal:

I measure/weigh the oatmeal, water and berries out in to storage bowls beforehand and stack them in the fridge. When it's time to eat, I transfer one of the bowls to a microwave safe bowl and zap it for 2 minutes. Then I add a little soy milk and a lot of cinnamon. It sort of tastes like a fruit cobbler. SORT OF! I like to eat this with a side of plain Greek yogurt, green tea, and my fish oil.


The water softens the oatmeal, so it is easier to cook in the morning. I have read that you can eat it cold, but I prefer it warm. I like to alternate between this breakfast and my Quinoa Fruit Cereal. It's kept me warm and happy every day for weeks now. I'm sure you will like it too!

*Oatmeal will double in size. Since I want 1/2 cup cooked, I start with 1/4 cup of oats and 1/4 cup of water.