Friday, December 20, 2013

Falling Apart in a Parking Lot

I have always been amazed at the outcomes of group settings. You hear about it all the time when 40 people watch someone get robbed, or you decide to get an iPhone because everyone else has those little tech boxes of infinite wisdom and coolness.

What is even more interesting is to see how you personally choose to deal with these situations. The agony of going against the grain can usually be enough to keep you on the sidelines. Heaven forbid someone stares at you. You can always notice these situations at huge public places like the grocery store or mall.

The holidays in general can be one huge conglomeration of these pack mentality instances, and a huge test of either being part of the action or a member of the crowd.

Recently at IKEA this whole do what everyone else does idea was put to the test. I am convinced that if you need to learn any thing at any point in time about life you merely need to go to IKEA. Within those furniture covered walls is a playground for human interaction. Aside from the randomness that you can purchase, it literally satisfies tastes from troll doll shower curtains, to amoeba shaped mirrors, and even vegetable throw pillows.

Every someone or something is sure to provide you with an experience that you know is only possible at IKEA. I'm talking about you meatball macaroni in the cafe.

So of course my last trip there was no exception. I wasn't even in the front door when all hell broke loose. I was walking in with my cart when a rogue cart filled with Tupperware and loofahs goes flying by. Behind is a man flailing one  arm in distress, balancing a lamp and place mats in the other one. The cart is literally emulating a Frisbee as it shoots kitchen organizers from all angles.  And everyone around is staring in awe. My moral conscious was reaching serious lows as I watched three cars proceed to flatten some Swedish version of Rubbermaid. As he scrambled to grab what little remained at that point, the wind picked up and blew those place mats like napkins across the lot. 

This was clearly the last straw. You could see the distressed man just trying to get a little organization in his life was quickly losing faith as he lost distance on the cart. I watched everyone continue to walk by and the cars demolish half the purchase and couldn't believe no one stepped in. I had a few fly away place mats land near me and quickly tried to grab what survived for the man, but he was too far gone as he sprinted to his car with about 1/4 of what he originally had.

No one deserves to have their life fall apart in a parking lot. Had there been less people watching, maybe someone would have decided to stop before flattening an entire cart full.

So moral of the story is, when helping others in public distress....

  • Their humiliation is greater than yours.
  • Everyone deserves excessive amounts of organizational kitchen ware.
  • You can be the one to step up...
  • ...because your neighbor probably isn't.
  • It will probably be you next, aka cramming a whole room's worth of decoration into a Toyota Camry {fail}
  • Flailing arms, and vortex like carts are no sympathy tactic.
  • If you feel like you should help then you probably should.
Best of luck at your next IKEA adventure!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cleaning Spree

So far this cold weather has been down right a pain in the behind when it comes to the thought of ever wanting to leave the warmth of my bed. Which means that by adapting to life as a hermit any sort of workout plan becomes extremely challenging. Especially when you perpetually can't feel your toes. No one wants to put on anything but flannel pajama pants and a space heater this time of year which means your motivation to workout was lost somewhere between ice storm and hot tea.

I am so guilty of this right now. After trying to make it to the gym only to slip around on break your face icy sidewalks it is simple, no one wants to walk into the gym with soggy pants and socks. Nor do they want a broken face. No thank you I'll take the flannel pants por favor.

After some time of avoiding the outdoors somethings gotta give. What happens next has got to be some sort of hibernation Christmas miracle. I decided to compensate the lack of gym time with house cleaning. Not just cleaning but workout cleaning, like set the timer for intervals of sweeping and scrubbing.

It not only helped work up a little sweat but it addressed the cleaning avoidance that sets in once you have been scrubbing for just a little too long.

In sure you have been wondering how to make a cleaning spree into a total body workout right?!

Bathroom: upper body obviously. Scrub everything because in reality nothing in the bathroom is ever actually clean.

Kitchen: abs!! Sweeping, organizing, using brute ab strength to scrub off baked stove mysteries, the possibilities are endless.
Bedroom: Dust all of the random stuff that literally just sits there, every little cranny, depths of the closet and all. Think pure Barre meets Thai chi.

Floors: wet rags + dirty shoe tracks= sliding lunge marathon human mopping machine. *this will be happening on the reg*

So maybe the place didn't look as clean as it could have. It literally never is, but it helped to avoid the blob like lifestyle that ice covered cars can induce. Happy hibernating!!


Found these Christmassyjewelryishmissingthings in the process yay double bonus <3

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mental Fitness

I have been really sick lately like pass out after a flight of stairs sick. Aside from the nose blowing and other unpleasantness that comes with the winter plague my memory seems to have suffered as well. For example...putting all of my must be frozen groceries into the refrigerator, locking myself out of the car, losing my Kroger card (and panicking because I thought it was my debit card), and we can't forget telling the mailman "no thank you" when he asked which apartment number was mine.

Working out doesn't go so well when you have a hard time breathing in your sleep much less while you are trying to work up a sweat at the gym. Most people get something every year that signals the change of a season, and mine always is when the weather gets really really cold. I realize yesterday was 60 but I am convinced this thing is lingering for so long in order to make things miserable in the single digit temps next week. Basically I am convinced that my body rejects blisteringly cold weather and some days rain.

As someone who never forgets, loses, misplaces, can't recall anything, this absent mindedness is really cramping my style. Oddly enough as I was cringing about how awkwardly I treated the mail man the other day, I kept seeing all of these articles about mental fitness.

side note...I always wonder if things just pop out to you more that you are thinking about them or if the Internet somehow magically knows what is on your mind that would interest you to read about. Like when someone you just randomly ran into after years of not seeing them pops up on your news has to be some combination of both.

We spend so much time working on physical fitness (or thinking about how we should work on it), that our poor brains get left in the dust. A healthy brain doesn't look good in a bikini after all. If anything this sick spell was a wake-up call to start thinking about brain health. I was feeling another ridiculous lapse in consciousness coming on so here are a few things that I know helped my brain get it together.

1. Yoga focus: I tried yoga, but instead of hitting all of the deepest poses as intensely as possible I halfsied the pose, put my knee down on lunges, dropped my hand down for support etc. And for the first time in a long time focused on how it felt to merely relax your mind instead of stretching your body to the limits. Which not surprisingly ended up being a serious workout. To avoid thinking about all of the things you need to do when you leave, to wish time would go faster, and to purely think about what was happening right there was exactly what was needed.

2. Black Tea: I have never been a fan of taking tons of different medicines, so tea was a great alternative. Because we all know how weird things can get on the Dayquil diet. Black Tea has stimulating effects that enhance your focus, and when has holding a warm cup of tea made anyone feel distracted...that's right never! The tea not only helps the gruesome sickness symptoms on the inside but helps settle your mind.

3. Downsizing: When things aren't feeling so great cutting back helps. Once you start mixing the refrigerator and the freezer up it's time to cut back on the external craziness. Cutting the clutter from your day lets your body deal with making things better.  Netflix is basically the miracle drug.

4. Do work on the procrastination: When you are feeling 100% your procrastination is at the top of it's game. Excessively going out to dinner, Pinteresting, Instagramming, are all the traditional signs of a healthy procrastinator. When you are sick and bed ridden you have no choice but to think about the multiple things you have probably been avoiding. 

5. Double time the vitamins: I don't care what anyone says it can never hurt to increase the vitamin intake. When your insides are feeling like murky trash day sewer water a little extra B-6 never hurt anyone. Vitamins that are immune system boosting are key...obviously.

6. Read:..something you actually want to read. Reading keeps your brain going when your body can't. You will love opening something besides a mystery stained rented textbook that probably would reinfect you on account of being 100 years old and touched by hundreds of people.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Red Lights

Every single day I sit at this red light taking deep meditative breaths because this light never ceases to take a half hour to turn green and as a result makes me late for work. The other absolutely insane thing about this light is that at least two people blow through the red light on a daily basis. I will be sitting there willing the damn thing to turn green as I channel the traffic gods, and the rest of the world seems to just take the liberty to run it like it’s some free for all.  

When it comes to red lights I usually cringe and make weird nervous sounds because with my luck I will get caught, but I realize that the majority of people think nothing of it. As I’m looking in my rear view for Seal Team 6 on my tail for blowing through that yellow, it is easy to forget that people run red lights all the time. It is easy to become hindered by the obligation to constantly follow the rules. It is the same reason why you were the only kid who lined up (at least that's what I remember :])when you were told after recess while everyone else continued to terrorize the playground until it was absolutely dire to obey orders. 
closest picture to driving and red lights I had Hi Molly! :]

While everyone runs a red light from time to time, I think you have to save them for times that really  matter like when you decide to have ice cream for breakfast. It got me thinking about all of the red lights we sit at constantly. From waiting on your job to finally seem meaningful, waiting for the next step in a relationship, to waiting on your future plans to simply drop out of the sky into your lap. Instead of running the light and flashing forward to a life in jail as a light runner learn to run red lights like a bad ass, figuratively of course, we can't have everyone going around like it's Clifton winter 2012, when everyone was driving through houses. Below are a few instances when you should for sure run the red light.

Run it when

You are hungry:It makes me so sad when I hear people talk about their diet and what they cant have, how they have only had a head of lettuce in the past 12 hours with some herb water. When you are hungry you should eat...always. If that's not the most refreshing thing you've heard all day then I don't know what is! No one likes to be around hangry rage.

It’s your health: I'm not saying get air lifted at the site of your next pimple, but to be proactive in your health. If things aren't feeling right figure out how to make it better. Being in touch with your body will not only make you more productive, it will keep you from running around with the eternal sickness that we all seem to get around this time of year.

It’s for someone: not saying what you actually want and need from someone is like handing the nearest stranger a spoon and hoping they will remember to feed you at some point. Saying what you really feel and want from others can be absolutely terrifying but ultimately allows you to get what you actually want, instead of the shitty date with that person who tells you about his ex-girlfriend the entire time.

You need a break: There is nothing pleasant about someone who runs around like a cyclone of business and leaves you and your Netflix watching self feeling guilty about being caught up on your favorite seasons. When things feel too crazy take a step back and turn the volume down. There is no shame in taking a break, and those dealing with you and your cyclone will appreciate it.

You are going for it: Jobs, goals, future plans whatever it is just go do it. If only you could stare at Linkedin with conviction for an hour or so, and your future employer would finally call you. You won't get where you want to be by sitting at a red light so just go for it. 

<3 RV

Mid posting of this Ja Rule Pandora caused my internet to crash deleting this entire post. So sorry if it sounds ridiculous this is the most I could remember from the original :] 

Monday, November 18, 2013


I went for a night run the other day and in the 5 mile time span I managed to awkwardly trip and nearly sprain my ankle a total of 4 times which for those keeping track averages to almost 1 trip per mile. Based off all of the red flags before and during the run I should have known that I was in store for an absolutely horrible performance. There is literally nothing more mortifying than tripping, almost falling, and then the tactic you choose in which you attempt to recover from it.  

The circumstances were just off from the beginning for this little outing. It was the first melt your face off cold night and I spent almost 20 minutes avoiding head on collisions while searching for a parking spot. I finally found a spot that I have decided was only half legal to park at because it wasn't a snow emergency or the hours of 2-4 and 3-7, but no parking if there were leaves on the ground, you drove a red car, or owned a steering wheel cover. I figured there was a 50\50 chance it would still be there when I got back, and in Clifton those are great odds.

I also realized that I have no idea how to deal with cold weather. I was insanely overdressed with two base layers with reflective warming capabilities and the thickest 100% cotton sweat producing hoodie I owned. Add in gloves with fingers slots twice as long as my actual fingers, and a Velcro arm band that kept sticking to and fraying everything I was wearing.

I took two steps and instantly was trapped in a furnace like body suit of heat. My face felt frozen solid which means my nose was dripping like a faucet., so overall it was an attractive site. 

Whenever I turned to look for cars while crossing roads my hood would blow across my face like a convenient blindfold which only added to how ridiculous it all looked. Then as I stepped for the sidewalk mid cross, the blindfold activated and my foot found the only pothole for a mile and sent me into a mid collapse recovery hop-ish looking jog across the street.

From here there are a few ways to deal and it can make or break the amount of shame you are forced to endure. Whether you face planted on the treadmill or your ankle gave out you have options.

Deny: literally act like it didn't happen. The passive aggressor's comfort zone. This is what I went with...

I shrugged it off and sprinted ahead to make some distance between me and the crowd of witnesses only to get stopped at the crosswalk by whizzing traffic. Was it just me or did everyone eying me while turning left seem to know what just happened? This tactic has a way of backfiring and forcing you to acknowledge your actions for prolonged red lights.

Blame: this guy at the gym was stomping on the treadmill obnoxiously loud to alert everyone in the room at he was running 10 mph. Naturally he looked around and ended up getting some face time with the floor. He stood up and got dramatically upset "fu@%#+g piece of $h*t" (storms away). Okay Protein, while this may help expel how awesomely dumb you are feeling it is way off putting to everyone in the area and leads to it being relived by others (like right now) for years to come.

Laugh: I avoid this because nervous laughter makes me uncomfortable. But the best part of this is that if you start laughing everyone else who is already laughing at what just happened is deterred by your willingness to embrace the situation; therefore turning a loss into a win. 

Somehow despite this train wreck of a run the car was still there and I was left with a greater understanding of how to manage the shames of cold weather running. Lesson learned, no blindfolds from now on.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Deal with it

So I did two Zumba sessions with a broken toe tonight. Usually debilitating situations like this would have sent me into a tail spin of “omg my workout career is over this is the end hello 10 steps backwards a 15 pound weight gain and a whole new sedentary toeless lifestyle” emotion. Ignoring the fact at how dysfunctional that whole scenario is, what really needs to be addressed is the dysfunctional way in which my poor little toe was destroyed.

Lifting and I have always had a love hate relationship. In one overly motivated attempt to befriend weight routines I have been using my little 5 pounders on a daily basis and have even been noticing subtle progress and I mean subtle. What is even more ridiculous is that I leave the weights out near my bed like being able to constantly see them will tempt me to actually pick them up once in a while.

Last night I was getting out of bed in the dark to plug in my dying phone. It was so cold that I half ran to and from the outlet and ended up crashing my foot more precisely my right ring toe into the damn weights causing a faint crack and throbbing pain. There was the wince and I walked it off like nothing happened naturally...first step, denial. All night long I felt the little thing throbbing and sure enough when I woke up it was the exact size and color of a purple grape, sweet happy Monday morning.

After taping and icing this pathetic little thing all day it was feeling okay and non-functional as it usually does, so I figured a workout was still in the cards. 
spared you the horror of the toe and gave you a picture of public enemy number one instead

 Me doing Zumba is the equivalent of those cute videos of toddlers dancing spastically in the backseat of the car to the radio; except minus the cuteness and add a broken toe with two left feet. This was going to be good.

I feel like these things are a fact of life whether it is affecting your ability to workout, or things in your general life. Things don’t go according to plan and we resort to being overwhelmed and defeated. As much as I hate shit like this, it is literally constantly happening so why not learn how to deal with it.

Make a new plan: toe’s broke now what? Shockingly enough, once that little baby got warmed up it really felt fine during the workout. I still had no ability to "body roll"so nothing was lost from the experience. I mainly can’t run which means adjustments will be made. If things veer from your path, have the wherewithal to make a new plan it won’t kill you I promise.

Get off the merry go round: When something is a routine or anticipated, the disappointment factor is higher than ever. There was nothing more earth shattering than when your favorite ride slowed to a stop, but sometimes you need to get off and try a new ride.

Adjust: Sometimes being minorly obsessed (okay maybe majorly in this case) with something can leave you feeling like that bird that continually tries to fly through your closed window. Instead of forcing what clearly isn’t working out, readjust and move on. Running was getting old anyways. This is an awesome opportunity to work on abs, or stationary lifting. I’m taking it as a sign to back off cardio.

Loosen up: No one is going to come arrest you for not completing your to-do list. It is easy to pressure yourself to do it all with time to spare. Instead of acting like a frantic zombie take the issues with stride and go with the flow.

Relax: This isn’t how things will always be. This isn’t even how they will be tomorrow so relax and remind yourself that they will work out, even if your toe feels like it is going to fall off.

Here’s to hoping these little messages will be to be enough to stay positive about even the tiniest road blocks in life. And as for the toe…it will serve as a constant reminder to never leave the weights out in the open...such a rookie mistake.


Monday, October 28, 2013

For When There Just Isn't Time

You know when you have one of those weeks where you seem to be half as busy as normal? Like things magically solved themselves and you accumulated free time that you hadn't known existed before professors learned how to post mandatory assignments at random online.  Okay really these types of weeks happen once in a blue moon most of the time, but what's worse is the following week. These 'home-free-things-fixed-themselves' days usually signify that the to-do list is merely stocking up its arsenal. I get genuinely suspicious when I find myself with options for how to spend my time, and almost every time, a calm week signifies the craziness that is to come.

Last week was one of those weeks. So of course this week was double the madness IE extra work hours, double the meetings, and a very dirty apartment that needed a bath.  When things get hectic finding time to workout can be a very real struggle.  While anyone on the outside would just tell you to wake up at the crack of dawn to fit it in like it's some no brainier,  I wonder how willing would you be to step out of bed after 4 hours of sleep and a marathon of a day under your belt? Not very I'm assuming. From there you are forced to make choices and what's the first to go you ask...probably not your favorite hour of TV...nor eating (thank goodness for necessities)... but an hour long session in the weight room, sweat drenched clothes, and achy muscles? I suppose we could find room for some cuts.

The result is the cycle of un-productivity. No workout leads to feeling like a slug, feeling like a slug leads to Netflix marathons, lack of real marathons happening means even less working out, and so on. So for when your weeks sneak up on you, and there just isn't time I am telling you there is time so just do it you will thank yourself later.

Multitask: read while walking or walk while reading whatever works best. Sure there are studies that have shown the ineffectiveness of pairing work with your workout, but even 20 minutes of the two works your brain in a totally different way that counts.

Stop sitting: burn more cals per hour and feel more awake by not sitting. Pace around, walk backwards whatever works for you. Progressive "fit companies" have the stand up desk and so can you.

5 minute fire drill: there are TONS of pre-made minute by minute workouts at your finger tips, so use em! In 5 minutes you can supposedly burn 100 cals with 40 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 squats, and 15 push ups...can't argue with that.

Roll with it: once you get going and start demolishing your to-do list it can be hard to slow down. Use that energy to squeeze in even a half hour of gym time, in the case of thee overworked college student a little goes a long way in most situations.

Reward system: 10 push ups for every page studied? how exciting! Okay so feeling the full force of your body weight and your ability (or lack there of in my case) to support it may not be the most enjoyable way to spend a minute, but the adrenaline from upping your heart rate for a little can get you focused by working both your brain and your muscles.

When things get crazy even the smallest workout can be the best form of therapy. Try to keep making your health a priority even through the hectic times.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Sweat?

We all workout for different reasons. Whenever I am asked or think about why I choose to sweat things out as opposed to other hobbies or interests, it is always a little challenging to describe. Yes like most of us, a huge reason is so I can squeeze into pants when the opportunity presents itself. Yes, so I can go wild and get desert with dinner from time to time. I can even admit that I workout because I fear what my backside would look like otherwise. But the more I think about it, the more I know it is for more than that.

People try to start loving fitness all the time, and half the time this attempt at the treadmill results in reinforcing why Netflix and ice cream made you feel much better. It is pretty mind blowing that some people would kill for a full day of gym time, while others would rather go get a splinter and then slam their finger in there car door before they looked at the weight room.

After considering possible reasons as to why there is such a great exercise divide, I have decided that it comes down to individual motivation. Are you the 'will sweat for beach season' kind? Or the 'it fulfills my soul' type? Even having a combination of the two can put you at various points on the 'why bother working out at all' spectrum.

Your workout goals can be the deciding factor in the future of your fitness minded lifestyle. It is important to understand your motivation towards an active lifestyle which will allow you to more easily anticipate how you will handle potential obstacles and the experience as a whole. If you had to generalize the one major reason why people push themselves to the point of physical exhaustion one answer is probably for happiness. You want to feel happy with yourself, your thoughts, your appearance, etc. From there everything else will start heading in the right least it should if your goals are in order.

Where those trying to break into fitness fall short, are those goals that are materially focused. Meaning you ellipticize because you will be the best looking naked person in the room. You strut around hoping to bump into that gorgeous dumbbell dude you see every day. Or the classic doing laps for the best gym candid to hit Instagram in 2013. These are all extrinsically minded goals. When you are shooting for status over fulfillment, chances are your plan to become a fitness enthusiast will last about as long as your new Nike shoes are in style. Really at this point the goal isn't even to enjoy a workout, but you still pretend that was the original goal. As a result, you the gymstagramer will resolve yourself to the fact that it "just wasn't for you", and bitterly recall that one time you tried...insert grand workout plan here. 

People who act on extrinsic motivations are dramatically less happy and successful than those who are intrinsically motivated.

A few CHAARG girls reaching their goals
The majority of researchers agree that when it comes to the human brain you've gotta use it or lose it. Contrary to how you may feel after your first date with the personal trainer, your mind loves change. One of the best ways to enhance happiness is to change it up in simple ways. Intrinsic goals and trying new things in hopes of personal growth end up being more rewarding and keep you feeling fulfilled. These motivations are why you all of a sudden can appreciate stepping in someones sweat imprint after hot yoga, or why sweat flinging off the back of the treadmill doesn't make you nauseous. When you are in the process of trying out a lifestyle in fitness, it is a beneficial choice to try it for the reward of the sweat, or the sheer accomplishment of trying something new. If you have realistic expectations and hope for how a workout will be rewarding, the habit will catch on and become a part of your lifestyle.

There is a reason material wants are objects. They remain detached and only surface level. Utilizing intrinsic goals in your workout journey will ensure that whatever the outcome is, it will be a meaningful one. This idea clearly applies to anything you could want in life from careers to relationships, and it certainly pertains to achieving a more worthwhile existence.

Whether fitness is already a lifestyle or something you have considered pursuing, have balance, an open mind, and you will never cease to surprise yourself!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

So You Want to Follow a Health Plan

I recently started following an exercise plan. A full blown this is what you do every day scheduled agenda. This was my first time ever tackling something that involved commitment and accountability in terms of fitness.  Usually my attention span fails me once I get a week in and I'm on to the next thing. I'm sure this tendency is linked to some deeper trait that reflects qualities in personal character, but for now I'm choosing to look at it for face value.  It is just such a foreign concept. Usually my decision to either go to the gym or run outside is decided on a 5 minute walk in between classes where I gauge the weather and/or how enjoyable it would be to run outside. I have run half marathons and never followed a strict race schedule, and I rarely know what I weigh (the universal agonizing number for most gals). I am quickly realizing that my "fitness routine" is more like a trip to IKEA you never know what you'll be walking home with.

This method has benefited me in numerous ways, primarily though keeping everything guessing from my body to running buddies; it's all just up in the air, non-committal and pressure free. For some reason I have always disregarded the 90 day shred, or whatever intense daily commitment a lot of people choose to make. It's not that there is any issue with doing something every day, but more so attempting to avoid the stress that comes with accountability. The thought of analyzing every single day's work is intimidating, especially when the last time you paid this much attention to your personal daily life was coping with the emotional aftermath of the Dexter series finale.

some of the lovely fitplan participants

 When it comes to workouts, finding what works for you can be hard enough on top of keeping track of the fit schedule you willingly registered for.  Here are a few things I felt the need to write out in hopes of motivating others who are wary of things with a specific time of commitment.  

Adjustments a non-commiter must make towards commitment:

One commitment doesn't need to turn into 5: It was like once I successfully accomplished a few days of the plan I had these adrenaline induced muscles that allowed me to be in 5 places at once.  Once you are productive in some aspect of your life, you suddenly find this motivation to start giving 150% at everything you do. While this is a really amazing thing, one day of power yoga isn't going to give you the ability to seamlessly rehab your entire life resist the urge to spread yourself too thin.  

Change IS stressful: This workout just asked me to go into the weight room. Like the room that has the bar and the sweaty dudes slinging weights around. It is a place where neon Nike frees and Luluemon tights are like having an extra limb coming out of your chest.  I have always been amazed at people who can just move to a new place, transition into a new job, break up with their boyfriend, and go on like all is right with the world. Tackling a workout regimen will challenge you to accept change both with your body and routine. It may feel a little stressful, but a little change can go a long way.
Routine is a good thing: Non-commiters are no stranger to chaos. In fact a day filled with simultaneous failed plans, spilled coffee, and forgotten exams is almost expected.  Once you avoid commitment for so long the idea of a routine can seem daunting.  Let your new workout plan help bring you back to some semblance of a schedule.  Just when you are feeling too overwhelmed by the day, your daily workout can help ease the stress. 

No 'do this to do that' mentality: The beautiful thing about a fitness plan is that it is solely focused on producing change for YOU. None of that SHAPE magazine run for an hour to burn off the two cookies you had at lunch, or swimming a bazillion laps equals the calories in your sliver of cake.  "Motivators" like that can make anyone turn towards a pack of Oreos to avoid all of the calculations.  Your fitness plan is meant to be an aid, not a tool through which you continue to over analyze your life.  

Let go of control: I have run a for half hour on the treadmill every day since you were in the fourth grade.  Your fitness plan is going to challenge that need to control your routine.  Whatever it is about working out it seem like once you find what you enjoy the thought of missing your squat reps can seem downright insane.  A fitness regimen will help broaden your interests as well as reveal new opportunities you may not have considered. 

It doesn't mean you are doing it wrong: Now you didn't get to do your squat reps and some other weird rep came and took its place. I found myself  going back and doing my 'comfort zone workout' after completing the new plan's daily routine.  It took a few days for it to sink in that whatever plan you are following is called a plan for a reason.  The new workouts may not be the same, but they still count!

Thank you Share it Fitness for challenging us to step out of our comfort zones and try something new. It will be exciting to see the changes!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The 10 Workouts you Already Dominate

A friend of mine was talking about the fact that she was going to three different workout classes the other day for a total of three straight hours of activity. Besides the fact that she was able to find three straight hours to fill, I was dumbfounded as to why on earth someone would feel the need to inflict that kind of personal exhaustion for the time it takes Dexter to off 4-5 criminals. I realize that I am not one to talk being known to spend the majority of my time doing various active things, but that doesn't mean I go spin for three hours straight (at least not yet).

Then I realized a lot of people around me were rattling off the 50 new awesome workouts they tried this week one of which being karaoke spinning...excuse me? Suddenly I felt like I had missed the memo. You hear every day about all of the workouts you need to start doing, how you aren’t doing enough to be active. Basically you can’t turn on the TV without being made to feel insecure about the freshly scooped ice cream you just busted out because supposedly everyone else is just constantly going on runs and all 'sweat is weakness leaving the body'. I would say most people know where to draw the line between inducing a heart attack and glistening after the elliptical, but recently I have had my doubts. Basically my primary concern is that you and your working out are not turning to a microphone on a spin bike just like iPhone turned to selfies and filters; rather than pure exercise goodness. 

This little article is meant to highlight how you may be overlooking your already fit choices you are making without running 10 miles to feel validated.  So you may not be killing it in the gym every single day, but I can think of 10 pretty legitimate workouts that you do daily that go unaccredited because you aren’t wearing cool Nike swag, or eating colorful quinoa, or ready for the classic instawitter combo (that’s when you tweet and gram it at the same time fyi) when you do these things, and no one really cares unless its documented through 5 mediums of social networking right? 

10 Workouts you Already Dominate 
I led a hip-hop yoga...not quite karaoke status
1. Walking...with your life on your back: Jobs, class, workouts, clubs whatever it is; usually demands at least a few extra articles of clothing and/or every textbook you own. Come Tuesday I usually have enough in my backpack to last me a week. 

2. Your life without a dishwasher: enough said. If you added the hours spent scrubbing with that 'leaves your hands smelling like mold' sponge, you may realize you just fulfilled a week of workouts. 

3. Logging on: I don't know about you but I have at least 10 different email accounts for myself and jobs that I am forced to regularly check. Not to mention the 40 different sites that require a username and password. I have every variation of my dogs name and capital letter with an exclamation point you can imagine and remembering them is no walk in the park.

4. Scaling the climb to your front door: That super cute vintage gaslight apartment up on the hill located on the 5th floor that was the best idea you have ever had...probably not as awesome once you make it up 6 flights of stairs carrying that bag that has your life in it. 

5. Research Methods and Analytical Patterns (insert torturous class here): maintaining consciousness through 15 weeks of PowerPoint presentations without collapsing on the floor in a heap of boredom exhibits the endurance of a true champion.  

6. Brushing: your hair, teeth, the stains from last nights fun, only because a load of laundry costs $3 these days, whatever it is you brush you know how your arm burns after wrestling with the knot after mere minutes.

7. If you have ever tried to decipher how to operate a Clifton lock and key: the chances of you actually having the right key to the right lock are about as likely as the lock actually being installed right side up and clockwise.  They are a mental puzzle that even the brightest have failed to accomplish.

8. Carrying 30 bags of groceries simultaneously: similar to the brush workout. I'd like to see any of these new hip workouts make you feel as if your arm is literally going to rip off of your body. Combine this workout with #1 & #4 and you're spring break ready. 

9. Getting clothes on for Friday night: 4 pairs of pants=20 burpees...and a strained hip. 

10. 9-12 hour part-time job shifts: everyone complains about their 9-5 and there are plenty of reasons as to why this happens, but I would say anyone working a part time job for more than 8 hours a day has every right to complain a little bit. Corporate professionals deal with meetings, ridiculous bosses, and monotonous days. The part-timers deal with this corporate person who is miserable after leaving their full time job and now they are hungry, miserable, angry, and their shoes are too small.  Dealing with the public provides a lifetime of tactical moves.  If you have ever powered through your full day at a part time job congrats you earned your workout. 

Did you get your workout in yet today?


Monday, September 9, 2013

10 Things you Realize after Visiting Africa

Last spring I spent 2 weeks in Africa.  I didn't go live in the jungle without electricity, nor did I help rehabilitate cities for an extended period of time. I wish I could confirm that I spent a year of my life giving back to a community that needs it. I went with a study abroad opportunity to learn about public health and how care is managed in this part of the world, more specifically Ghana.  While we didn't volunteer our services, the information gained was incredibly eye opening and perspective broadening. We focused on major diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.Throughout our stay we were able to travel to clinics,hospitals, and related organizations to meet with health and medical professionals (and tons more than I can fit in this little background shindig).
I have thought a lot about why I wanted to travel to Africa. I guess it wasn't because I have always had some deep desire to fix the world and save lives. I can't even say that I went because I wanted to help the children (please don't get me wrong here! I would have loved to help and volunteer at a site, but it was a general public health trip). I think I went because I needed to see it first hand. To understand why and how a region on the same planet with the same people could live in such an entirely different situation.  I needed to see the poverty, abundance, and infrastructure (or lack thereof) to grasp how I felt about it all. You see the commercials and hear heart warming tales of how someone came to aid and lives were changed. But then that someone leave to go home, the money runs out, and then what? What happens in the day to day? Does the help make a difference, or enhance the problem? I wanted to face the big health issues from the ground level and try to imagine some shred of a possible solution.  

It was hard while there to face the blaring possibility that there is no single quick fix. We think the answer is a vaccine, or volunteers, or money.  While all of those are positive steps in the right direction the issues go much deeper than that.  There are deeply rooted variances in thought processes that hinder a mindset towards universal problem solving.  When it comes to health there is no single answer, but more so a lifestyle shift that must occur.  Lifestyles and societal norms must be addressed. You can sit all day and consider every "if-then" scenario and wind up not having arrived at a conclusion, but opened one hundred more doors towards problems that must be overcome.  When people as me why Africa I really can only say "to know what things are really like." Here are a few things I learned as a college student in Africa.  They aren't necessarily understandings that tackle the big ideas, but simply are lessons that matter to a 20 something looking for answers.

10 things you realize after visiting Africa in college

1. Value your health: health is something denied to many and is not a guarantee. While finding time
to go to the doctor can seem like the worlds most inconvenient and bank account draining burden we need to remember that we live in a culture where even the grocery store has a clinic. We can literally go buy break-n-bake cookies and then go get a check up.  In most of Ghana there are only about 1.5 doctors per 100,000 people.  It is easy to forget what a luxury it is that we have the information available at the mere tap of an iPhone or trip to Kroger.  

2. Having options is not a burden: I was honestly stressed out yesterday because three of my favorite yoga classes are now scheduled at the same time. You get upset when the grocery store is out of one of your 10 favorite types of shredded cheese (sorry clearly groceries are on my mind). I feel so ridiculous when I get overwhelmed by the fact that I have more electronics than I know what to do with. The majority of the world doesn't know what a twitter handle or Pop Chips are. 
After a run through Africa
3. We live in a 'me' centered society: At this point in life we are so focused on answering questions like "what will I do after college?" "how can I make the most money?" "why don't I have more likes on this status?" A huge difference that struck me about Ghanaians was their communal mentality. They live in a culture where you have an obligation to serve your family, or your community.  While the environment may not give people living in east Africa much of a choice, seeing this mentality from the outside is a beautiful thing.
Ghana Kroger
4. Your roommates aren’t as bad as you think: Not even having a sink where dishes can pile up, a shower to clean because you run so much water in it, or never having space on the DVR are the age old roomie disputes that accentuate and reinforce the 'me' focus discussed above. They, believe it or not, are not issues in other parts of the world because they simply don't have those things. 

5. Embrace help: This one was interesting to see. How willingly help was sought after, and how graciously it was received. As a young college aged person you feel conditioned to fiercely guard your successes and do it all on your own.  From dislocating your shoulder carrying 20 bags up the stairs to landing a big job we have a hard time accepting counseling and aid when needed. It is hard to consider letting someone assist you; any more you are just terrified that they are going to tell you there is a service charge (thanks for that Time Warner). In the Ghanaian culture many people genuinely helped one another out for the sake of doing the right thing. 

6. Independence is empowering: We get choices. You can say what you want to say and think whatever you want. In fact not taking advantage of this is viewed as downright wasteful.  It is taken for granted that we live in a society that embraces these freedoms.

7. The world is bigger than your 2 bedroom whatever: I am talking thousands of people crammed into the smallest of public spaces.  There are more people in this world than we can even comprehend who live in areas that don't make the nightly news.  It is so easy to forget about the rest of the world outside your bedroom door.
8.You won’t always have an answer: In life there will be problems bigger than you can solve. They will cause your head to spin.  Even the best bullshitters have to admit defeat sometimes.  We spent much of our time in Ghana considering the big issues and for the first time in a long time, I didn't have an answer.  Discussion and experiences like this give people the ability to ponder these answers and a perspective that is capable of contributing more than what happened on the Real Housewives of New Jersey last night. 

9. Reality isn't easy to face: Just like it wasn't easy learning the truth about the tooth fairy, the reality of global regions can pose a discomforting picture.  In life we are challenged to live truthfully and build a future that encompasses success.  Being present in the reality of your life is incredibly important while accomplishing future goals or working towards change.

10. There is not a Sarah McLaughlin song playing when you do a good deed: Difficult situations and facing challenges are a part of being human and growing into who you are meant to be.  You may not receive the recognition that you feel you deserve, or obtain the positive feelings you anticipated from giving your time or aid and that is okay.  We expect glamor. If only John Mayer songs played when we fell in love and Josh Groban raised you up when you finished running a marathon.

This may all sound a little deep for what is normally up on here, but these are lessons that I think have helped change my thinking for the better. Maybe some of them can apply to you also :]