A Lesson In Love

After spending four years training as a journalist, I learned a thing or two about maintaining a sense of propriety when shit hits the fan. One of the biggest things we’re taught in journalism school is the importance of objectivity – something that we need to hold onto in order to see the whole story.

So when something big happens in the news, I’m hesitant to react. I have a difficult time forming opinions. I like to find the facts before I decide on how I feel. It’s something I’m rather proud of about myself.

Over the past year or so, I’ve had far more emotional reactions to current events than usual. Saturday was one of them. I followed the events throughout the day and tried to avoid having a reaction to them. I tried to think clearly. I tried to rationalize everything that had happened.

Until I read something pretty unrelated. It was a post a friend shared on Facebook, discussing the importance of taking care of your fellow man and standing together through it all. The main quote threaded through the post read, “I hurt with her.”

That’s when my tears began. Not because of the story in the post (although a beautiful story in itself), but because of the hurt that happened that day. The ugliness the white supremacists showed in their anger and hostility towards those unafraid to stand against them. The photos passed around social media of a black police officer protecting a group of Nazi supporters. Photos of Heather Heyer, and her grief-stricken friends who survived the same accident that took her life. Of James Fields, the new face of domestic terrorism.

My heart sank, but not for long. Shortly after, social media outlets blossomed into a wave of hope and unity. The seeds had been sown. Everyone with a voice took to forums and comment boards, tearing down anyone who sympathized with the ones who tried to make America “great” again. I watched some of my closest friends completely shut down the few who argued the protesters weren’t in the wrong. Because despite the fact that they had a permit allowing their rally, it should be without question that white supremacists ought not to assemble without counter protests.

If we are to take one lesson from Saturday, let it be a lesson in love. Let it be a reminder that loving each other – that remembering we are all human beings – is the most important part of who we are not only as Americans, but as a global union. We all have the same fears, the same hopes, and the same pain. We can all hurt. All of us. And when we hurt together, we heal together. So, as you continue on with your daily life, remember to take a look around you at the people you pass by in the grocery stores or on the sidewalks. Remember to smile at the woman handling three screaming children on her own. Remember to drive slowly past the road construction workers. Remember to wave to the postman or garbage collectors. Remember to thank your local police officer or firefighter. Remember that regardless of nationality, creed, color, gender, we can all hurt. And with each other’s help, we can all heal.

Remember that sunshine chases away the rain.

4 Weird Things Runners Do

We’re all weird. Every single one of us in this planet is a big ol’ weirdo. And runners are no exception. When I began running, I didn’t realize there was a certain ‘weirdness’ that comes with being a runner. After all, there’s absolutely nothing strange about running for miles and miles for absolutely no reason other than your own personal enjoyment.

Okay, so distance running is weird. But as I slogged through my eight-mile run over the weekend, a peculiar thought occurred to me – we do a lot of incredibly strange things that most people don’t do on a regular basis. Here’s my top 4:

1) We talk to roads.

So I’m not sure if this is a ‘normal’ runner occurrence, but it happened to me out of nowhere last weekend. I talked to the road. Well, track, because I wasn’t actually on the road that day. Not out loud, of course. Didn’t want to look crazy or anything. Because, you know, running in big circles for an hour and a half isn’t crazy…anywho.

That morning, the song “Shut Up And Dance’ came on my playlist just as I was hitting a pretty tough part of my run (I think it was mile six). I was staring blindly at the asphalt in front of me because I couldn’t find the energy to hold my head up any higher. My legs were about to give out and I was slowly falling into a walking break, which I was trying to avoid. Suddenly, the chorus lyrics sang to me.

Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me
I said, you’re holding back
She said, shut up and dance with me

And for some reason, my mind automatically imagined the road singing this to me. Daring me to dance with her. To not look back. To keep on reaching.

And it worked. I got through that mile and almost to the end of mile seven before I took another mini walk, then I finished my workout.

Don’t forget to talk to the road.

2) We have crazy gear fetishes.

Particularly for shoes. Taking a runner to a local fitness store is like taking a two-year-old to an all-you-can-eat ice cream parlor while watching Trolls or Moana on repeat, and then skipping nap time.

Best. Day. Ever.

3) We track waaay too much info.

I have a ton of apps I use for running – two of them are for music options, complete with several running playlists depending on my mood. I also have an overall health app that connects to my fancy schmancy wifi scale, and a GPS tracker that also syncs with my scale and online accounts.

Runners will track anything such as current and average paces, overall time, number of weekly workouts, distance, increase in overall distance over time, elevation, etc. It’s pretty much a statistician’s dream to befriend a runner.

4) We eat a lot.

And I don’t mean, “Oh my gosh, I ate sooo much salad for lunch.” Give us a good early-morning distance run and we’ll clear out the pantry by the afternoon. I recently increased my Saturday mileage to eight miles, and by the time I hit my recovery walk my stomach is ready to commit murder for a Klondike bar.

More like four; those are so small these days, it’s unfortunate.

 

Are you a runner? What’s the weirdest thing you do? Comment and let us know!

Grains of Salt: A Happy Reminder

I love a good documentary. Who doesn’t? They’re chock full of information – a lot of which you may not typically learn otherwise. And streaming services are catching on. Remember the Netflix craze of 2016, Making A Murderer? That docudrama alone caused quite a national ruckus.

wthOver the years, various food and health-oriented documentaries have surfaced through the fray as the Age of Information continues. The most recent to rise in popularity is What The Health, an expose on the connections between the meat and pharmaceutical industries, and the economy.

 

There’s an unfortunate reality that I’ve found with this recent onslaught of documentaries. Oftentimes, in the filmmaker’s attempts to bring the truth to the masses, much of the “truth” is brushed aside for a more subconscious agenda. For example, What The Health begins innocently enough as it focuses on the more negative side of the meat industry. The picture it portrays, unfortunately, is truthful enough. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that processed meats (i.e., smoked and cured meats) are a Group 1 carcinogen. In layman’s terms, processed meats are definitely carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and are classed in the same category as asbestos and tobacco. A concern for your health? You bet.

Furthermore, WHO also labeled red meats such as beef, veal, pork, mutton, and goat meat, as  Group 2a carcinogens, or “probable” carcinogens. WHO doesn’t make their announcements lightly – in fact, this report was concluded after 22 scientists from 10 countries evaluated over 800 studies that linked processed and red meats to colorectal, stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

Scary stuff, right?

What The Health continues into the poultry industry, detailing the rather well-known facts behind chicken processing, the gross lack of regulation, and the unfortunate treatment of animals in all meat industries. The medical professionals interviewed are quick to point out the high sodium levels in most poultry products, and even the cholesterol levels in store-bought eggs.

This, at least to me, is where things start to go a little awry.

Yes, there’s cholesterol in eggs. The yolk of one large egg has about 200 mg of dietary cholesterol. I say dietary because, well, there’s a difference: dietary cholesterol is basically the cholesterol levels found in food. Blood cholesterol, on the other hand, is associated with the mix of fats and carbohydrates found in your bloodstream. This is what is checked when you have a blood profile done by your doctor or lab. You can learn more about cholesterol here.

So, based on that information, your intake of fats and carbs would have a greater impact on your blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol would. Now, I’m no expert, and I’m not saying ignore the dietary levels. But, eggs are constantly cracked against for all the wrong reasons. They are a fantastic source of complete proteins, biotin (great for hair and nails), and choline (good for brain health). And while there’s no current recommended limit on daily egg intake, the current cholesterol limit of 300 mg daily would limit you to roughly one egg a day.

In What The Health, the documentary’s progression takes a turn at this point, free-falling into the world of veganism. Let me say right now, I’m not against veganism. I love differences in people, and if veganism is something you or anyone else chooses, then go for it. It’s just not for me.

Unfortunately, the picture the film begins to paint makes it seem as though the only good food left for anyone to possibly eat would be vegetables and fruit. Backed with doctor and nutritionist interviews, What The Health references personal accounts of people plagued with illnesses, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and their complete and utter transformation after following a plant-based diet for a mere two weeks. Interviews also focus on the benefits of veganism with athletes.

So, here’s my take:

vegetables-variety

I do agree on some of the arguments made. The meat industry is in desperate need of a complete and epic overhaul. If you don’t want to eat meat or dairy, go for it. If you do, fine. Source it from a good place. Do the research behind the labels you send your money to. Buy grass-fed beef, buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens that are not on a vegetarian diet (chickens should eat bugs). Buy local chicken and turkey. Visit some farmers in the area and buy the cheese and milk they make.

Also, vegetables should be the focus of everyone’s diet. In my opinion, we as Americans don’t eat enough of them. And I don’t mean fried ones, or thinking potatoes are a good substitute for a side salad. Vegetables should be in every single meal of every single day. Fruit should be included as well. Plant-based protein sources are fantastic! Quinoa, brown rice, pea, pumpkin – these and so many more options, are all great sources of protein.

All in all, it’s about finding the balance that works for you and your health requirements.

Personally, my family is going to cut out mass-produced red meat sources once again. We avoided them for quite a while, but they recently began to sneak into our diets. Watching What The Health was a good reminder of why we dropped them in the first place.

Anyone concerned about their health (which should be everyone!) should always, always look at what they spend their money on. A real look. And yes, documentaries such as What The Health are incredibly resourceful. But, as with everything else in the information age, it should all be served up with a little extra salt. There’s always more than one side.

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Day

Time to share some freedom!

Today’s a great day to celebrate our freedoms – it’s Independence Day!! It’s also little Moose’s birthday, so my family has double the celebration today.

And while I haven’t run or done any heavy working out in a few weeks, I figured today was a perfect day to get back into it. So, I went on a celebration run! With a 95-degree sizzle in the air and the sun beating down on my sunscreen-lathered shoulders, I sweated out all of the birthday cake and no-so-healthy options I’ve been enjoying. I sweated out my doubts and fears. I pounded my feet on the pavement, letting the past year of life-changing stress and my entry into motherhood flake away with every step.

Most of all, I ran today to commemorate all of our friends and loved ones who fight for days like today. As a military spouse and mom to our very own Army brat, I always aim to remember those who stand in harm’s way so we can remain free.


Doing some cool-down breathing exercises after today’s hot run!

Rebirth, renewal, and remembrance are so important, and every so often I like to trek on a little commemorative run to herald in that renewed spirit. Today was a perfect day.

Happy Independence Day, America!

A Paralyzing Life

Success in life first takes a lot of failure.

Recently, someone came to me for some advice on a healthy lifestyle. I’m usually asked one of two questions and lo and behold, this person asked one of them.

“How do I get myself back into the swing of things?”

(The other one, if you’re curious, is, “Do you have any tips on starting a healthier lifestyle?”)

I always give out the same solid advice: balance your macros, cut the junk food, drink half of your weight I ounces of water per day.

But a thought flickered it’s little light bulb at me from the recess of my mind while I was speaking to this person. It seems to me that the more I delve into the world of helping people find their happy and fit self (a relative term, more on that in another post), the more I find that people are paralyzed. Whether it be societal influences, peer pressure, body shaming, laziness, or self-loathing there is this major underlying thread permeating the masses.

They’re too afraid to fail.

Everyone wants success in life. It’s the American dream, right? But here’s the catch: the idea success is a mind game. There are many people of all walks of life that deem themselves successful. In the traditional sense, the rich and powerful often find themselves a success. They have the good paycheck, the good job, the good cars, the good houses, the good vacations…

*eyeroll* Okay, moving on.

The point is, success is what you make of it. In the world of fitness, for example, my idea of success is getting in four workouts a week. Not always possible! But, in order to achieve success, one has to learn how to fail.

And failing sucks, plain and simple. But why do we have to fear it so much?? Failures provide invaluable lessons and a wealth of free information you wouldn’t find otherwise. I read a lot of fitness and health sources and more often than not, every time I read a profile piece on someone who’s made it big (think Micheal Phelps big) that person has discussed the failures that brought them to their success.

So try it next time you want to reach a goal. Fail. And don’t do it a little. Fail hard. Fail miserably. Fail so bad you have to throw something at the wall. Fail so hard you cry like a three-year-old in the middle of the produce section at Costco. Fail so much that it takes an act of Congress to make you stop binging crappy Netflix shows.

Then when you’re done smacking yourself for what you did, look back at the moment. What happened? What went wrong? And, more importantly, what can you do to improve? (**Do NOT ask, “What can I do to not do that again?” Chances are it’ll happen again. That’s how life works. Preventing failures works against the system and will only set you up for more permanent failures in life.)

So remember, success in life first takes a lot of failure. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Opening The Door

We start out life as children – our minds and hearts full of wonder and excitement. The world is our oyster! Then, we grow up. We become adults. We graduate school, get jobs, fly the coop, and venture into the wild unknown carrying those pearls of wisdom we’ve picked up throughout our lives. All the while, we stay connected to our loved ones – parents, siblings, and especially friends we made. The cherished memories keep us alive, and we follow the never-ending quest to continue our traditions of old, and make new ones with new friends we meet over the years.

For most of us at a certain point of adulthood, we settle down and start raising our own children. Many parenting couples ultimately decide to become a one-income household and have one parent stay home while the children are in their youngest developing years. This usually becomes the mother (although many fathers also take on this role).

And this is where the hidden problem finally rears its ugly head. Loneliness. An unfortunate effect of stay-at-home motherhood. Sure, we’re surrounded by babies all day. We go out for stroller walks and take our kids to the park and playgrounds and playgroups and library story time and mommy and me swim class and mommy and me yoga class and mommy and me…

When was the last time any of you went out without your kids?

When was the last time you called up a friend and went shopping? Or went out to lunch, or got pedicures, or went to (god forbid) a bar??

I’m a sucker for being a homebody. I’m the first to confess to people I meet and befriend that yes, I have a hard time going out and doing things, especially in social situations. It’s just in my nature. It’s why I have a thousand crafting and homemaking hobbies, and one of the millions of reasons why I want to live in the woods.

That being said, I also need social interaction. We as humans are social creatures. It’s why we settled down into communities, why we raise families as villages, not as individuals. It’s why we call ourselves a “society” instead of “random-ass group of people who just co-exist”.

So WHY do we have such an issue talking to each other at our playgroups and mommy and me classes? Why can’t we tear down that wall we build around ourselves? Why do we sit awkwardly by ourselves at library time instead of saying a simple hello?

Yes, it can be terrifying. No, not everyone has a good day. Yes, the woman sitting at the park with their child might be the oddest mom you’ll ever meet. But chances are, if she’s sitting there by herself playing with her kids, occasionally looking around to see who else is there…chances are, she’s just as nervous and terrified and awkward as you. And that simple hello could open a door to a brand new – and not so lonely – world.

Try to open the door.

 

What are some ways you combat loneliness? Let us know in a comment below!

Routine Shakeup: 4 rules to follow when things start to suck

For the past three months, I’ve focused most of my exercise routine on distance running with a goal to increase my mileage. It worked well for a while, but then I hit that point where I began to get lazy about it. I either took more walking breaks or just flat out skipped a run entirely. Part of this coincided with the rising temperatures and insane humidity my area has had for the past month or so. It’s the kind of heat that makes you sweat when you’re standing still. The kind that makes you realize wearing jeans in 95 degrees isn’t all that uncomfortable. And it’s only going to get hotter.

It’s not to say running became boring – I still enjoy it. I just needed something else. So a couple of weeks ago, I switched it up. I began to run less often each week, and incorporated strength training workouts instead.

For some reason, exercising inside makes me a lazier person. Probably because I have to work out at home rather than hit up a gym. For me, a quality workout begins with a good location – working out in my living room, when I’d much rather sit on the couch and crochet, just doesn’t cut it most of the time. And because of that, my workouts suffer.

Whenever that happens, I follow a few basic rules to make sure I at least get something out of my day.

Rule #1: Put in at least 10 minutes.

This is always my most important exercise rule. On those days my motivation is running on empty, I still lace up my sneakers and force myself through 10 minutes of exercise. One of my key points about this rule is to start timing my  10 minutes after my warm-up.

For me, 10 minutes is a perfect amount of time to round up enough energy for a quality workout. And if I can’t summon my inner Hercules and push out another 20 minutes of sweat-inducing work, then at the end of the day I can at least say I tried.

Rule #2: Don’t skip more than two days in a row.

Skipping a workout is normal. Most people do it from time to time. But start pushing them aside for more than a couple of days and suddenly you’re on a slippery slope of quitting your routine altogether.

It’s easier to maintain a routine than to stop and try to restart it. Think of all the times you sat down on the couch and said I’ll get *insert chore here* done after the next episode. And suddenly, you’re binge watching your way through season 10 of Supernatural.

Not that I know what that’s like…

Bottom line – don’t skip more than you have to. Rest days are incredibly important, but so is maintaining your routine.

Rule #3: Dress the part.

Ever wake up and just know that cup of coffee isn’t going to help? Those are the days where I immediately change into my workout clothes. By the time I lace up my shoes, I now have to force myself through a workout (see rule #1). What’s the point of putting on gym clothes if you’re not going to use them, right?

Rule #4: Remember why you do it.

What’s your WHY?

I love that question. It’s so useful for everything. Why? Why are you following your fitness regimen or your healthy diet? Is it because you want to fit into a size 10 again? You want to pick things up and put them down again?

So, what is your why?

I’ll tell you my why: the tiny offspring that watches every move I make (kind of like an evil Santa Claus). She watches the food I put in my mouth and constantly begs me for some. If I’m not going to feed it to her (aside from choking hazards), why would I feed it to myself? One of my dreams is for her to have a healthy, active lifestyle and to embrace physical activity as a natural part of life and not as a chore. So, I work out in front of her. I take her on stroller runs. She helps me do my sit-ups and we do our mommy squats together.

I also want to be healthy so I can be there for her when she’s older. So she’s not worrying about my health and wellbeing, but rather the health and wellbeing of her own tiny humans, if she chooses to have them. I want to be healthy so I can last a lifetime.

 

For now, these few rules help get me over the mole hills that make up the life of a mom. I admit I have it far easier than others, but that isn’t to say life is without challenges. Sometimes switching the routine is the answer to what plagues us.

 

What rules do you set for yourself to reach your goals? Let us know in a comment here or on our Facebook page!