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.