Life Reimagined

It’s hard to believe it has been over a year since I’ve sat down to write anything. When I look back at the year itself, I’m in awe at all that we’ve endured. Never in my life did I think I’d be living and leading in a global pandemic. There truly is no course that would have prepared me for this.

My last post was May 2020 and at that time I was deeply grieving the loss of my beautiful mother. She succumbed to COVID in early April at the height of COVID-19 outbreaks. After that, I feel like I was swallowed up into a black hole. Life continued, at a ridiculous pace, in my position as a Principal of an Elementary School. Every day felt like a month, every challenge felt tough, every event unchartered territory with no guidelines or support to be had. Yet, I am one of the fortunate ones as I work in a community that banded together and stood strong. I never would begin to tell anyone how to move through something like this and that may be one of the reasons why I stopped writing.

I decided this summer to begin to process what I’ve experienced this past year and a half, which is something I’ve avoided. To disconnect with any expectations and take the summer to relax, recharge and begin again. I decided to not let the lessons of this pandemic be lost on me. To do that would feel like I’d not been changed by it. I am not the same person who existed on March 12, 2019. I’d like to think I am stronger, wiser and better, but those would be lofty goals. What I am is more aware of the fragility of life, both in length of time and on this planet.

Like many people, during COVID lockdowns, I found myself making poor eating choice healthy and not engaging in exercise. Seriously, it was hard enough to get through the emotional exhaustion of most days without it, so why bother. I didn’t miss any time at work, even during the loss of my mother, as being absent just didn’t seem to be an option. I worked through all holidays and the summer that followed, as did most of my colleagues. We were able to bank the vacation time for use at a later date, which in hindsight was a blessing. This June 2021, I decided that taking time off was essential to my emotional well being.

I spent the summer engaging in deep personal reflection around the events of the past year and their impact on me. I returned to the gym in late June and found that the lack of exercise had taken a huge toll on my health. I was determined, but way out of shape. I dabbled in healthier eating, but still was not motivated to cook, despite building a state of the art kitchen in our renovated home. I lost 20 pounds and am proud of that, but know that I haven’t given it my best effort.

I have wanted to go fully plant based for a long while, but just couldn’t seem to take the plunge. I increased the amount of plant based meals I was eating, but without cooking, I grew tired of endless salad offerings. Rather than give up, I began to drill down. What could I do to make this more doable and motivate myself to cook again.

I found a wonderful woman, Chef Cynthia Louise, who has many cooking and plant based offerings. I had not heard of her, but seemed pulled toward her food offerings. They were realistic – not a ton of ingredients; holistic – organic, plant based foods; easy – not too long from prep to table; and delicious. I joined her 14 day plant based challenge, which comes with shopping lists and recipes. I’ve made two days worth as of this writing and none have taken more than 30 minutes to prepare. All have been delicious, like really delicious. I just made a salad dressing for a salad that truly left me wanting to eat more salad.

I have cooked the past two days and actually enjoyed it. My kitchen has been done since February and I have only cooked one meal a week at best – Sunday sauce. I’m super excited to feel like cooking again and hope this continues now that I am returning to work tomorrow. The ease of these recipes makes me feel like it will. The early morning offerings at the gym make me feel like that is doable as well. Stay tuned for my weekly blog to return.

To learn more about Chef Cynthia Louise visit her website at

http://www.chefcynthialouise.com

I get no compensation for my recommendation to her website, just the knowledge that you are possibly going to engage in a healthier journey. If you do, let me know as I’d love to hear about it.

Celebrate You

Christmas is next weekend and for many it can be a time of great emotional pain.  There are empty chairs at tables around the table and loved ones left to deal with this loss.  One way I deal with it is to always keep my loved ones near.  I have something of these loved ones included on my tables when I set them.  It may be a simple thing like the salt shakers, or the china we eat on, or my memories of them sitting and laughing at my table.  It can be a very trying time, but we must celebrate life and continue our journey as that is what they would want for us.

When I think back on Christmas past, I often take out old photographs and am always surprised by how absent I am in large chunks of time.  I remember avoiding the camera at all costs but I never thought about the future and how I’d be noticeably missing from our past.  What will my children and grandchildren have to remember me by?  I wrote about this in a previous column and I think it’s worthy of a reread.  The unintended consequence of my action is that I removed myself from my children’s past memories.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Get in those photographs this year regardless of how you think you look.  I guarantee when you look back on them they will bring you joy and you truly won’t even notice!

Take a moment to read this column and leave me a note below.  Enjoy the holiday week with your loved ones and be sure to capture each moment.

Unintended Consequences

Taking the Plunge

What do you do when you need to try something new?  Do you hesitate, or jump right in?  Do you try every new thing you encounter, or are you cautious and selective?  I am the cautious and selective type.  I like to read and research before taking the plunge, especially when it comes to what I put into my body.  I want to be healthy and not fall victim to the mind robbing disease that has devastated my family.  I must admit it is hard with so many “things” out there.  I get emails, see videos, advertisements on Facebook and encounter people who truly believe in programs on a daily basis.  If I took the plunge each time, I’d be broke and most likely still in the same boat.

The way I stay focused is to remember my why.  My why is to remain healthy, active and maintain my memories long into my 90s.  With this in mind, I must remain careful about what I eat and drink.  My philosophy around nutrition is that food is fuel for my body and the means to remaining healthy.  These weight loss programs sound so darn appealing and I must admit those who have had success are totally passionate and committed to them.  The before and after photographs are so inspiring and I am extremely happy for them all.  But, I just can’t do them.  Those programs are not for me as I don’t want to get my nutrition from powders and pills and often if you dig deep enough the ingredients are not totally pure.

With the exception of Purium, a program which I’ve yet to find any bad ingredients in, most of the other programs have at least one ingredient that just won’t work for me personally.  I did use Purium for a while last year and will say I had no problem buying it.  I truly didn’t mind the expense and it was expensive.  My only problem with some of their drinks was the taste.  For me, they just didn’t taste good.  I am a fan of the Apothe Cherry drink and like to drink that at bedtime.  I found a version that cost less though and has the same impact for me.

Dynamic Health Tart Cherry Turmeric and Ginger Tonic Supplement, 16 Ounce

I mix 2 tbs of this juice with 8 oz of water and drink about 30 minutes before I go to bed.  You can drink it straight, but I prefer to dilute it.

Last week, I told you I was planning to do a 10 day green cleanse and shared the book I use with you.  I cleaned up my act this week for sure, but still was not able to feel totally on track again.  It just feels like there is something every day that gets in the way of my nutrition.  I made better choices and definitely lost 5 pounds, but I’m still not satisfied that I’m fueling my body properly.

This week I attended two days of professional development, not for nutrition mind you.  As part of the presentation, the presenter was sharing his struggles with weight loss.  As he talked, he shared an app that he was using to keep focused.  I am not a fan of programs, but found myself at a center signing up that very afternoon.  I have decided to do this program only because –

  1. I get to prepare and cook my own food.
  2. I don’t have to count or think about anything.
  3. I will get daily feedback on my journey.

I signed up at Weight Watchers not because I need them to tell me how to eat, what to eat or why to eat that way.  Believe me I know that already.  I signed up because they have made it so easy to monitor what I am doing on a day to day basis.  I love the app (yes I know I could just use a free app) and how simple they have made it to track my day.  Yes, the program is about tracking points and that’s just fine.  Yes, I’m aware that it really is about counting calories and portion control.  Yes, I know that I need to eat healthy fats and this program attempts to limit that, but I think I can make this work to keep me focused and get me back on track.

Right now, I can eat 30 points a day.  My superfood coffee counts as 9.  Though they would encourage me to swap that out, I know I need the healthy fat it contains and that in the long run it connects to my why.  I am able to eat vegetables and fruits as low point and no point options.  So, of course you know this will motivate me to increase my intake of those foods from my least favorite food group.  The best feature of all is I don’t have to convert or count anything to figure out points.  I get to simply scan the barcode and it’s there, or type in the food.  Thank you for this wonderful feature!  Lastly, you get points to swap the more you move which sure motivated me to take an extra walk last night with my dog.

Am I excited about the program itself, not so much.  Am I excited to have a focus to get me ready for training, yes!  This sign up for me was for a 3 month pass.  Just enough time to get ready to toe the line for my marathon training program which officially starts in June.

I’d love to hear your success and failure with Weight Watchers.  Please feel free to share below, or shoot me an email.

Recipe Swaps

Coffee, the favorite drink of many.  Some drink more than three cups of coffee per day. Many never stop to think about the chemicals, pesticides or other issues with consuming large amounts of coffee.  The debate over coffee’s benefits are conflicting at best.  Research shows it is beneficial to drink, but there are also studies that show it can be detrimental.  For those reasons, I chose to spend some time revamping my daily coffee fix to ensure I am getting the most out of it.

Last year, there was a disturbing video on Facebook showing a little thought of issue with using a Keurig coffee maker.  As I watched this video, I vowed to stop using my Keurig immediately.  This machine, found in most homes and offices, has been shown to create mold.  It makes perfect sense that this could happen as water just sits inside of the machine’s inner mechanisms.  This dark environment is ripe for breeding mold.  Additionally, the fact that this machine and the pods used cause damage to our planet are not lost on me either on this Earth Day.  My husband and I when we used the Keurig always used the reusable attachment and did not purchase pods.  It was not only better for our environment, but more cost effective.

Aside from mold, coffee is a crop that is known to be heavily sprayed with pesticides.  Most people don’t stop to think about this when they are sipping up to six cups a day.  My husband drinks 5 cups of coffee per day.  If we didn’t purchase organic coffee, his exposure to pesticides would be extremely high.  Though it may be more expensive to purchase organic coffee beans, I am asking today that you think about the long term effects of drinking cups of chemical laden coffee.

Finally, most people use coffee creamers in their daily coffee.  I was a huge fan of french vanilla flavored creamer and thought nothing of adding it to my cup to make it light and sweet.  Others use artificial sweeteners to avoid adding calories to their morning cup.  Research has strongly linked these sweeteners to autoimmune diseases, as well as cancer.

With all these dangers lurking,  you begin to wonder if your daily cup of coffee is even worth drinking.  Then you read that coffee has many benefits to your health, plus you just plain love it.  The simple solution here is to do a recipe swap and upgrade your coffee drink.

Here is how I updated my coffee routine to ensure I was getting the benefits of drinking coffee while limiting the dangers.

Change Your Pot

I stopped using the Keurig after watching the mold video.  I definitely don’t want coffee laced with mold.  Honestly, I was so grossed out I don’t think I’ll ever use one again.  I immediately pulled out my old Faberware pot given to me 30 years ago when I got married.   When it finally died a few months later and I began looking for a replacement.  The newer Faberware pots did not have great reviews, so I decided not to spend the extra money to purchase one.  I purchased a Presto pot and absolutely love it.

An added benefit to percolator coffee, aside from the fact that it’s a hearty cup, is that it is hot.  I never felt the drip coffee pots, or Keurig made a hot enough cup.  I often put it in the microwave for 30 seconds just to heat and you know how I feel about using the microwave.  Here is the actual pot we purchased.  We also bought one for all our family members over the past year in hopes they’d make the change.  Not everyone has joined us on this journey, but we tried.

  Presto 02811 12-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker

My son purchased a French Press for his girlfriend. This is another great option for a healthier cup of coffee. This is a great option if you don’t drink a lot of coffee in one sitting. It wouldn’t be a good choice when you have a lot of company. Here’s the French Press I liked.

French Press Coffee & Tea Maker Complete Bundle | 34 Oz | Best Coffee Press Pot with Stainless Steel & Double German Glass

 

Change Your Coffee

I only purchase organic coffee at this point.  My husband occasionally picks up coffee on sale which is not organic.  I will drink it, but really try to limit my exposure to pesticides through coffee consumption.  If you order coffee at Starbucks they have organic options.  I’m betting you can request this when you go in for a cup as they do sell organic coffee beans.   I’ve tried many different brands and have settled on one of these two options.  Both are available through subscribe and save for further discounts.

Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Medium-Dark Roast Whole Bean, Subtle Earth Organic, 2 Pound

I prefer to purchase whole beans for the freshest cup. I grind the beans on a weekly basis.

Bulletproof Whole Bean Coffee 12 oz.

This coffee is slightly more expensive so I only get one bag per month on subscription and fill in with the other less expensive option in between.

Change Your Recipe

I stopped using flavored creamers completely and will not use artificial sweeteners to replace it.  I’ve written and shared about my switch to drinking superfood coffee.  I only drink one cup per day and it’s very satisfying and has been said to improve your health.  When intermittently fasting, this coffee, with its healthy fats is very satiating and provides a nice energy boost.  Here is my recipe for coffee (based on bullet coffee):

Ingredients 

  1. 1 cup brewed hot coffee
  2. 2 tbs collagen
  3. 1 tsp ghee (or Kerry gold unsalted butter)
  4. 1/2 tsp organic raw honey (optional)
  5. 5 drops of liquid stevia
  6. dash cayenne pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, vanilla extract
  7. 1/2 tsp raw cacao
  8. 1 tbs brain octane oil (or coconut oil)

Directions

Place all ingredients in blender.  Blend (hold the cover) until smooth for a refreshingly delicious frothy cup of coffee.

I played with this recipe for a bit until I got it the way I liked it.  The first day I wasn’t sure about this whole concept, but gave it a week.  I love it so much now that I can’t drink a regular cup anymore.

If you are a big coffee drinker, I hope you’ll spend some time reflecting and exploring.  Read up on healthier options for your daily cup.  If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Here’s the link to the collagen I use and the brain octane oil in the event you’d like to give those a try.

Bulletproof Upgraded Collagen Protein – Net Wt. 16 oz

Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil – 16 oz.

Snap Out of It

Well this has been a rough week for me when it comes to healthy eating.  My birthday was Wednesday so there was some eating of cookies and cake during the day at work, followed by dinner out and some wine.  Then Thursday was a late night at work so we ordered dinner in – Chinese food.  Friday was a night out for dinner at a yearly PTA function which involved more wine and restaurant food.  While I didn’t over eat at any of these events, my body is just not used to eating in this manner anymore.   I’m feeling lousy because my eating routine is totally off kilter.  I’ve been eating out, not home cooked, so I feel sluggish and tired.  I feel like I’m full of salt, chemicals and wine.  I need to snap out of this and get back on track, but I’m not feeling motivated right now to even move.  My bed is so comfy and cozy and it’s cold and dark outside right now.  I have a scheduled slow, long run today and I’ve yet to move.  I feel like slapping myself and yelling, snap out of it girl.

I think I need to do some detoxing this week to get myself clean and restart my mojo.  It’s so amazing how much difference a week of unhealthy choices can make on my overall feeling of health.  I’m tired, bloated and totally lacking motivation.  I feel myself struggling hard to get back on track.  I know how easy it would be to just say forget it and continue on this path, but I just can’t let myself do it.  I have got to get myself back on track and quickly.  It seems to take me six months to lose 10 pounds, but I can put them back on in less than two weeks.  Funny how life works sometimes, right.

I’m not a fan of pills and drinking powdered shakes when detoxing.  I am a firm believer in nutrition and using the power found in food itself to get myself back on track.  I am going to pull out a 10 day green smoothie cleanse I used a few months back and give that another round.  Yes, this plan does involve drinking smoothies, but they are filled with delicious vegetables and super foods, not powders and expensive products.

10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

This cleanse is super easy to follow.  I do the modified version which involves drinking two green smoothies a day (breakfast & lunch) followed by a healthy dinner.  There are options in the book for the modified version, as well as the full version.  The full version involves drinking three smoothies and eating healthy snacks and drinking tea.  I like to eat food and the thought of ten days without does not appeal to me.  Doing the modified version and substituting breakfast and lunch are super easy for me because then I don’t have to worry about packing lunch.  The author also hosts a free Facebook group, so you can go on and network with other people doing the cleanse. This book provides shopping lists, recipes, and detailed instructions for the 10-day cleanse, along with suggestions for getting the best results. It also offers advice on how to continue to lose weight and maintain good health afterwards. Easy and far less money than purchasing a program!  Many programs will cost $200 or more to get started.  This book is under $10.  You know I’m going to say it, win – win.

This is just the jumpstart I need right now! How about you?  Are you ready to do some internal cleansing?  Do you want to jumpstart your spring healthy eating and just plain feel better?  Then join me in doing the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse!  I’m heading out to do my shopping after my run.  I’m feeling better already and can’t wait to get some healthy food coursing through my body!  If you are joining me, leave a comment below.  I’d love to exchange recipes and good health with you.

 

 

On the Road Again

Sometimes I feel like I’m always starting over with my running. I’ve had to overcome some serious injuries along this path, but I keep getting back out there. As you know this Christmas Eve I broke three toes. Not quite the present I hoped for, but you take what you get in this life. Even though I worked out over the winter these first days back out on the road reminded me just how daunting my new challenge really is. 26.2 miles – gulp!

This week, I started reflecting back on my running journey. When I was younger my dad and I used to run together and do some local fun runs. My training runs back then consisted of me running either on the track across from my house, or around Juniper Valley Park. I was blessed to live across the street from this beautiful park. At the time, I worked in the city and also did some fun runs with my work friends.

Fast forward far too many years to mention and I returned to running with the hope of losing weight. I was doing some walking, but always felt the pull to move my feet and run, so figured I’d go for it. I had no plans to do any races, but ended up signing up for one with my work friends. The running community is a beautiful one to be part of so I’ve continued doing races. To date I’ve completed many 5k, 10K, 15K and one half marathon. The half was my goal race last year and I thought that would be my distance limit. Why then do I now find myself signed up to run in the NYC Marathon?

I can’t even tell you why anyone would even want to run 26.2 miles. I’m not sure how I plan to do it, but do it I will. The real training plan starts June 12th, but the base building plan has already begun. With the arrival of warmer temperatures and healed toes, I’ve taken myself off the treadmill and put myself back outside. With my broken toes, I tried hard to maintain my base by using the elliptical and treadmill over the long winter months.

My first few outside runs have been challenging and disheartening anyway. I feel like I’m back to the beginning again and three mile runs have felt like marathons.  Already I feel my negative self talk returning full force. As I’ve been out there I say mean stuff like, “Are you out of your mind? Three miles feels like this, imagine what 26.2 will feel like. Why do you have to do this anyway? You should forget about it.” Right now I’m procrastinating getting out to do my long run. Lord, I need to get CONTROL.

What do you do when you feel yourself giving in to fear of an upcoming challenge? Do you eat, drink or quit? Me, I definitely eat and indulge in some nice wine. I wallow in self pity for a bit and beat myself up with negative self talk. What I don’t do though, is quit. Once I’ve allowed myself to go through the process of eating, drinking and talking trash, I begin to claw my way back out and get busy.

This week has been about that – getting over it and getting serious. This goal is not going away and I fully plan to meet it. Here are a few of the ways I get myself back on track when fear of failure gets in my head:

Connect with People Who Share Your Goal

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I reminded myself this week that I am NOT alone on this journey. I have a tribe of people who are supporting me. In addition to my family, I have running friends who will support me as I train for and run this race. I have a running club that I am part of and have started reaching out for support. They connected me with another group who consists of people also training to run the NYC Marathon this year.

I also have two running partners in crime who will toe the line with me this November.

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Helen & I – Roosevelt Island 10K

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Flo & I – Freshkill 10K

I also have my 2017 Run the Year teammates coming up to NYC so we can run this race together.  We have in essence created our own tribe of strong women who will meet this goal.

Read, Read, Read

When I start feeling self doubt, I like to read motivational books, articles, quotes, basically anything I can.  There are tons of books out there written by others who have walked our walk in life, whatever it may be.  This week I reread my own blogs written to remind myself why I am on this path.  These two in particular were most helpful –

I Got This

Declaring My Why

I also read a wonderful memoir that truly resonated with me.

Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run

In her memoir, Alexandra speaks to the journey through self doubt and hard work to meet her goal of running the London Marathon.  I laughed out loud in some parts and strongly connected to her pain in others.  A true journey of triumph and highly motivational to me and many others who have read it.  Worthy of a read for anyone questioning their ability to meet their goals.

Get Started and Try Your Best

The hardest part of the journey is often getting started.  Just lace up and get out there – take that first step.  I’ve been using my week off to jump start my motivation.  I’ve been able to get my runs in outside in the beautiful world.  It’s refreshing to see the sights after a winter in the basement.  It’s good for my soul to be out in nature and though it’s been hard this week, I know I’m making progress.  Finally, in the words of William O’Brien –

Some say risk nothing, try only for the sure thing,
Others say nothing gambled nothing gained,
Go all out for your dream.
Life can be lived either way, but for me,
I’d rather try and fail, than never try at all, you see.

The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day, I’ve bared my soul here and now feel ready to get out there and get it done.  Enjoy this day and set yourself back on the path to meet your goal, whatever it may be.

Please take a moment to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear about your goals and plans to meet them.

 

 

Tuesday Training Tips

As a new feature to this blog, each Tuesday I will share a quick training tip that has helped me stay on track.  We all know there are a million excuses and reasons to skip a workout.  For me, I have always been pretty steady with my workouts and rarely skip them.  The first tip for my new Tuesday Training Tips post is to keep your workout routines interesting and fresh.

I have found that when I did the same routine over and over I would quickly burn out and lose interest and motivation.   For example, if you currently run for every cardio workout, try adding in days where you do something different such as biking, hiking, swimming, elliptical, rowing or even walking fast.  If you are training for a race, like I am, and don’t have the luxury of not doing a run, try mixing up the route you run or the tempo.

As you know, I am training to run my first marathon.  My official run plan starts in June, but I am currently running to maintain my fitness.  This winter I was using the treadmill most mornings, though I loathe it, because 5:00 AM is might dark, cold and desolate outside.  I found that I quickly began to lose interest and motivation to even run.  I realized it was because a) it is monotonous to run on a treadmill; and b) it was the same thing every day.  In my quest to reenergize my routine, I began exploring ways to make this routine more interesting.  Any of these ideas can apply to your current fitness routine and are easy and free to implement.

Schedule Different Routines

I found having a plan the easiest way to mix up the routines you follow.   Get out your calendar and schedule your workouts to build in variety and keep in interesting.  Below is a sample workout schedule that you could follow.  Just substitute the workout listed for the routine you prefer.

  • Monday – Easy run 45 minutes
  • Tuesday – Yoga class online – 30 – 60 min
  • Wednesday – Tempo training run – 30 minutes
  • Thursday – Strength class online – 30 minutes
  • Friday – Easy run 45 minutes
  • Saturday – Lap swim 60 minutes
  • Sunday – Rest day – easy walk

Another version I personally followed when recovering from broken bones involved only strength workouts.  These were streamed online and I used hand held weights.  The same principles applied in that I scheduled the sessions to stay focused and engaged.

  • Monday – chest/triceps
  • Tuesday – legs
  • Wednesday – back/biceps
  • Thursday – active recover – yoga/pilates
  • Friday – shoulders
  • Saturday – full body
  • Sunday – REST – easy walk

Scheduling workouts like this keeps it very interesting.  It also breaks them down into smaller, manageable parts.

Download an App

There are SO many free apps to choose from these days.  I’m currently loving the Running for Weightloss App, which has a free version.  I am in week 6 of using this app and it has really kept my interest on runs.  The one I am using is an interval training program which includes a coach who speaks to me on runs.  She tells me when to run, walk and sprint.  I find I look forward to these runs and include them into my routine three times a week.   I get a great workout and the session flies by.

Join a Club or Find a Friend

Everything in life is better with friends.  For me, finding someone to run at 5:00 AM is pretty impossible.  I joined an online running club and found many friends to network with.  We keep each other motivated and yes, sometimes meet up in person at races to run.  Just because you don’t have someone every day to workout with, don’t give up.  Even if you have friends you can talk to about your workout routines, you’ll find your motivation will increase.  My club is called the Sub30 Club and is offered through Runners World.

Vary Routine

If you are training for an upcoming goal race and need to just plain run, I’ve found the way to keep it interesting is to vary your routine.  Again, a schedule and a plan are most helpful to keep yourself focused and to ensure you are training enough to meet your goals.  When I trained for my first half marathon last year, I purchased a running plan.  I couldn’t believe the difference the plan made in my motivation to get out there.  I didn’t have a live coach pushing me along, it was just me and the road, but I was motivated and never skipped one planned run.  I am obviously schedule driven, but I think changing up the routines was the true key to my success.  Here is a sample week for my runs on the plan –

  • Monday – easy effort run 60 minutes
  • Tuesday – tempo run 45 minutes
  • Wednesday – easy effort run 60 minutes
  • Thursday – active recovery – walk/yoga/pilates
  • Friday – tempo run 45 minutes
  • Saturday – long run 90 minutes, easy effort
  • Sunday – REST – walk

The times increase over the course of 20 weeks for the long run.  The shorter runs generally stayed in the same range.  The plan I purchased was from Another Mother Runner.  There are many free programs available online if you are looking for a plan and can’t afford to buy one.

Do Just a Little Bit Each Day

I love the concept of doing short workouts every day.  It really makes it so accessible for anyone.  Seriously, who can’t carve out 10 – 15 minutes a day.  You may think it’s not enough and it may not be in the long run, but in the short run it will get you engaged and started.  For me, I use this concept to get my strength training in when I’m training for a race.  Running during training takes pretty much all my free time in the morning.  There just isn’t enough time to do a 60 minute run and get in a proper strength training routine.  My choice became either get no strength training, or add a little in each day and go for the compound effect.  I chose the later and added 10 – 15 minutes to the end of each run.  Here’s a sample of the add on to my current routine –

  • Monday – easy effort run 60 minutes/foam rolling 5 minutes/strength 10 minutes
  • Tuesday – tempo run 45 minutes/yoga burn 15 minutes
  • Wednesday – easy effort run 60 minutes/foam rolling 5 minutes/strength 10 minutes
  • Thursday – active recovery – yoga/pilates/walk
  • Friday – tempo run 45 minutes – strength 15 minutes
  • Saturday – long run 90 minutes – yoga burn 20 minutes
  • Sunday – REST

If I can’t fit the short add on into the routine in the morning, it is surely manageable to do at night.  I am the queen of excuses at night, so I make sure to fit it in, but you can certainly see that doing 15 minutes of something at night is much less stressful than carving out 60 minutes after work.

My routines are all available online and were inexpensive to purchase.  I use Yoga Burn, which is segmented into 15 minute segments.  I purchased Danette May’s Fit for Life subscription and it includes workout calendars for the month.  I just pick and choose the ones I wish to do for each day.  They are all segmented into 8 – 10 minute workouts.  Both of these are meant to be repeated three times, but for me I only really have time for one go around.  As I said, it’s not my only routine and I’m using it as an add on.  I’m also hoping for the compound effect and looking across the week rather than fitting it all in one session.

During the summer when I have more time, I will surely add more strength in, but if I want to stay in the game this works for me.   What are your routines to keep yourself motivated to workout?  I’d love to share some new ideas.  Please leave your comment in the section below.

DIY Natural Cleaning Products

I used to love coming home to my freshly cleaned home.  I especially loved the smells when I walked in after a cleaning session.  Never once did I think about what I was breathing in, or touching, during cleaning, or after.  I now realize that cleaning my home doesn’t have to be a toxic filled experience.

In our efforts to keep our homes clean, we are unknowingly breathing in and touching many toxic chemicals.  I know so many people who religiously wipe down home surfaces, desks, phones, basically everything they come in contact with on a daily basis.  In their efforts to avoid germs, they are choosing rather to expose themselves regularly to toxic chemicals.

Here are some easy recipes I personally use for healthier home cleaning products.  They are all easy to make, use and work quite well.

All-Purpose Cleaner:

Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon of water. Store and keep – I use large glass jars purchased at the Container Store and pour into a smaller glass spray jar.

I use this mixture to clean my windows, bathroom fixtures and shower doors.  It also works great for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels.

Wood Floor Cleaner:

I use green tea and warm water to mop my wood floors, but you can use regular tea if you wish.  I don’t mop them too often as I don’t like to use a lot of water on the wood, but when I do I pour boiling water into a bucket with 10 tea bags tied together.  I let it sit to cool.  When cooled I mop the floor with the mixture.  Makes the floors super shiny.  You can add a few drops of lemon essential oil if you want a refreshing smell.  To minimize the need for damp mopping, use a dust mop or a dry microfiber pad for routine floor cleaning.

Bathroom Shower, Tiles & Grout

Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.

Cutting Boards

I use a wooden cutting board when I cook.  The last thing I’d want to do is clean this board with a harsh chemical that might leach into my food.  This is the easiest way I’ve found to keep my board clean safely.  I rub a slice of lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface. For tougher stains, squeeze some of the lemon juice onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe.  You can also make a paste with baking soda to disinfect after cutting meat.  Let this paste sit on the board for at least 10 minutes prior to rinsing.

Furniture Polish

For varnished wood, add a few drops of lemon oil into a 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and finish by wiping once more using a dry soft cotton cloth.

For unvarnished wood, mix two tsps each of olive oil and lemon juice and apply a small amount to a soft cotton cloth. Wring the cloth to spread the mixture further into the material and apply to the furniture using wide strokes. This helps distribute the oil evenly.

Stainless Steel Cleaner

I clean my kitchen appliances with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar. For stainless cookware, I mix 4 tbs baking soda in 1 qt water, and apply using a soft cloth. Wipe dry using a clean cloth. For my stainless steel sink, I pour some club soda on an absorbent cloth to clean, then wipe dry using a clean cloth.

None of the above recipes are hard to make and some can even be made in a larger quantity and stored.  A nice added benefit is the amount of money you save making your own.

I was super excited to read WellnessMama.com’s newsletter in which she shared a wonderful recipe for making nontoxic disinfecting wipes for use in your home.   I’m definitely going to make these.  Here is her recipe exactly as written:

DIY Disinfecting Wipes Ingredients

1/2 cup vodka (NOT rubbing or isopropyl alcohol)
3 TBSP castile soap
1 ½ cups distilled water
30 drops tea tree essential oil
35 drops lemon essential oil

Materials

About 6 store-bought washcloths (the cheap, thin ones) or 12 large t-shirt fabric squares
Glass container with a sealable lid (about a 2-quart capacity)
Large mixing bowl

Instructions

In a bowl add the soap, water, alcohol, and essential oils. Stir well to combine.
Place two of the washcloths or fabric squares into the glass container, then pour about 1/3 of the cleaning solution over them. Repeat this process until all of the cloths and solution has been used. (This approach guarantees evenly wet wipes.)
Put the lid on the container and move the container around, tipping it upside down and back again to make sure the cloths are fully saturated.

How to Use the Natural Disinfecting Wipes

Remove a wipe from the container, and wring any excess liquid out over the other wipes. Use it to disinfect and clean surfaces around the house.
Since these natural disinfecting wipes are sturdier than the store-bought disposable ones, they hold up to scrubbing surfaces much better.
Test any new surfaces in an inconspicuous location if there’s any concern the wipe could damage the material or surface to be cleaned.

To wash: Launder with other kitchen towels. I always keep a small laundry basket on hand in my pantry for towels and wipes. I wash them together in hot water with a splash of hydrogen peroxide and regular laundry detergent.

Above recipe is from WellnessMama.com

I recently learned of home cleaning products by a company called Norwex.  I went to a home party and purchased the window cleaning cloth which works with just water.  Works really nicely too for day to day cleaning of windows and mirrors.  The package I purchased included this and a dusting mitt.  You can dust your furniture with no products at all, just the mitt.  Both of these items make the in between scrubbing cleaning so much easier for me.  They also wash in the washing machine and are good to go for your next cleaning session.  I have been exploring Amazon and noticed it is less expensive to buy there from authorized dealers.  Here is the link to the kit I purchased –

Norwex Household Plus Package

I hope you take the plunge and begin limiting your exposure to chemicals in your cleaning products.  If you are a person who, like me, loves the smell of a clean house, add some essential oils to your products to get a healthier fragrance.  I use lemon and lavender oils in some of mine.  Here’s the link to the oils I use, but any would work.  Just make sure they are pure and organic oils.

Making your own products may require more of your time, but just think of the time on Earth you’ll gain from living healthier. I truly believe that every small change will add up to more time.

Have you already made these changes in your cleaning routines? If so, please share any recipes or tips you have by leaving a comment below.

Is Your Cookware Safe?

You go out of your way to eat clean, organically grown foods.  You even spend time cooking and preparing healthy food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You are well on your way to reclaiming your health and feeling pretty good about where you are right now.  You really think you’ve got a handle on this healthy lifestyle business.  I’ve just got one question for you to think about. What type of cookware are you preparing your healthy food in?

When I first started researching Alzheimer’s disease, I was shocked to learn just how many toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis.  I began cleaning up my act literally.  One area I had not thought of, at that time, as a source of toxins was my cookware.  Thankfully, I didn’t have many nonstick pots, or teflon, in my possession as those are some of the worst offenders. I’d like to share with you what I learned about the hazards of using certain types of cookware.  Ease of clean up should most definitely not be the deciding factor when purchasing pots, including disposable versions.

Studies of various cookware options have shown that many can be dangerous to your health as they have been found to leach various toxins into your food and body.  You’ve taken proactive steps to remove toxins from your food, please don’t introduce them right back in through cooking in unsafe pots and pans.  The biggest offenders appear to be the nonstick lines of cookware.  Touted for their ease of cleanup and nonsticking properties, these pots are the most dangerous to use.  In fact, if you own them, I recommend you throw them out today.

According to studies, one of the biggest problems with non stick cookware comes from the chemical that creates the nonstick surface – perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA).  This chemical releases when heated and can potentially leach into the food you are cooking.  Further, if they are scratched or have breakage to the surface leaching potential increases.  I no longer have any nonstick cookware in my collection.  I have slowly replaced all my pots and pans, including the pan I cook my eggs in.  That pan is the most commonly used nonstick pan most people use and I’m betting you have one in your collection as well.  Please take some time to take stock of your pots and pans and bakeware.  I’m sure you will find nonstick versions, especially in your bakeware and frying collection.

When I first started looking at cookware I realized I needed to make some changes.  I wasn’t able to afford to replace all my pots, pans and bakeware at once as good quality pots are quite expensive.  I began researching and looking at the best options for safe, healthy cookware.  I then began purchasing literally one pot at a time.  Before you jump into purchasing, I suggest you spend some time reading and learning about the safest and healthiest cookware options.  Then select the options that works best for your lifestyle.

Here are the types of cookware that have been shown to leach dangerous toxins into our food during cooking.  I’m betting all of you have one of these five in your current collection:

Aluminum
Speckled Metal Bakeware (think Grandma’s roasting pan)
Non stick Anodized Aluminum
Ceramic Non Stick Aluminum Skillet
Non stick Glass Bakeware

I know I had many of them in my collection.  You’ll notice that aluminum is repeatedly on the list.  I wonder how many of you, like me, line your roasting pans in foil when cooking to make clean up easier.  Or how many of you wrap food in aluminum (think baked potatoes) when baking.  Aluminum is one of the worst offenders and an item I used most often during the cooking process.  Aluminum is a very soft metal and one that causes an extreme chemical reaction between food and the pan.  For example, all vegetables cooked in aluminum produce hydroxide poison.  I hope you keep this in mind next time you reach for those disposable aluminum pans.  People make fun of me on holidays because I cook for large crowds in pans that need to be washed.  I’d rather spend time cleaning my pan than being sick down the road.

Many people purchase stainless steel pots and think they are safe.  If you buy cheaper lines of stainless steel you can still face potential risks.  Cheaper stainless steel cookware is made from different alloys, including scrap metal.  Most of these lines can potentially allow chrome and nickel to bleed into food as the salts and acids of foods react with the pots.  When purchasing stainless steel you should only purchase high grade surgical stainless steel, even at the higher cost.

Another common line of cookware is cast iron.  Cast iron is a highly porous metal and grease can turn rancid in the pores.  My mother in law has many older cast iron pots and she says you’re not supposed to scrub them with soap or Brillo.  This totally grosses me out, but I have read these directions about cleaning cast iron pots during my research.

Now that I’ve got your attention and you’ve taken stock of your current cookware, let’s make a plan to replace then with safer, healthier versions.  My first two purchases when I began replacing mine were a roasting pan and a 6 quart pot.  Both of these are staples in my collection and ones I use most often.  I recommend you start with the pots you use most often to cook.  Then, look for sales and slowly replace the others.  I even put a pot I wanted on my birthday list one year and wouldn’t be offended if someone gave me one as a present.

Here are the safest options available when selecting cookware:

High Quality Surgical Grade Stainless Steel

This type of pot will be more expensive to purchase, but totally worth the cost.  Remember, you don’t need a full set of pots.  Start with the one or two you use most often and forget the rest for right now.  There are many brands that offer high grade surgical steel stainless pots.  Many have aluminum inside the steel metals to aid in heat distribution.  Don’t be alarmed by this, as the aluminum never comes into contact with your food and stays perfectly encased inside the stainless steel.  My personal choice are pots from the 360 Cookware line.  I like the vapor seal that allows me to use less oil in the cooking process.

360 Cookware Premium Waterless Stainless Steel 6 Quart Stockpot with Cover

Ceramic Cookware

I am new to ceramic cookware and excited by its versatility.  Ceramic, or glass cookware, can be one of the best options out there to avoid toxins.  Additionally, it can be used in high heat and is dishwasher safe.  The downside of using ceramic cookware is that it is breakable, so you do have to be somewhat careful.  If you drop it on your ceramic floor, it will most definitely break.  I primarily use this type of cookware for cooking eggs and baking.  The line I use is Xtrema Ceramic Cookware and this is my egg pan.

Xtrema 7 Inch 100% Ceramic Skillet with Cover

Enameled Cast Iron

I am a long time fan of Le Creuset products.  The research, however, is mixed on using enameled cast iron as it has been found that heavy metals such as lead and cadmium found in the ceramic glazes can pose potential danger.  In researching this issue, I found that Le Creuset addressed these concerns and feel comfortable still using my two pieces from their line.  Basically, they stated that these chemicals were present only on the outside of the cookware and never touch the food.    These pans are very expensive.  I purchased mine at the Le Creuset outlet during their yearly sale.  Mine were also seconds, but you can’t see anything wrong with them and I was happy for the huge savings.

One final category of cookware worth mentioning, is slow cookers and crock pots.  Many of us use these cookers on a daily basis.  There is little information available about testing done on the safety of ceramic inserts found in many crock pots.  Also, I am not sure about the grade of stainless used in the stainless versions.  For this reason, I decided to take no chances for my slow cooking choice.  I purchased a very versatile slow cooker, which is actually a stand alone pot as well.  It is made by 360 and works beautifully.  Here is the link to check out this great option for a safer slow cooker.

360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker and Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Cover, 4 Quart

I hope you will begin to think about cooking your food in three ways: 1) what you cook; 2) how you cook it, and; 3) what you cook it in.  Don’t overlook the importance of using safe, healthy cookware as part of your healthy lifestyle.

If you have already made this change, I’d seriously love to hear about it.  I am always looking for information on this topic and for new and healthier versions of cookware.  Please leave a comment below about what changes you have made to ensure you are using healthy cookware to prepare your meals.

Accountability

Personal success can be achieved through taking personal accountability for our actions. This shift takes time for many to achieve and is one I’m working toward.  It’s hard to accept that you and you alone are accountable for your success or failure on this journey. It’s often easier to blame genetics, health or other outside reasons for your failure to make progress. But, today I’d like to talk about taking control of your journey and accepting personal accountability for it.

Think about this, every single decision you make in a day is in your hands. You alone decide to sleep in, get up, work out, or to eat that cookie or apple. You alone must take responsibility for the things you do and don’t do in any given day. Recognizing and honoring this is a necessary first step toward making lasting changes in your health. It can also be a powerful tool toward changing unwanted behaviors and ways of thinking about yourself.

Many of us spend our days drowning in negative self talk, blame and procrastination. On this journey toward reclaiming our health, we first need to address the elephant in the room – blame and excuses. Yes, it is far easier to say I’m still overweight because I’m a middle aged woman, or my parents were overweight, or, or, or. Accepting these excuses and reasons for our struggle is like giving ourselves a free pass. Further, accepting these reasons can lead to accepting where we are and giving up on trying to change our way of life.

Personal accountability is not meant to be a way to blame yourself for all that’s wrong in your life right now. Rather, it is meant to be a means to accept that despite where you are right now on your journey, including the reasons for being there, you have the power and responsibility to improve your health and make lasting changes.

Two of the most common reasons for not achieving our goals can be tied to making excuses and not having strong enough reason for doing something. Excuses can often lead to loss of motivation in any endeavor we take on. Motivation will quickly fade over time, especially as we begin to make excuses for our failures. Once we begin to blame outside sources for our lack of progress, we begin to lose our focus and drive. Having  strong reasons for getting healthy can help improve your focus and drive. Losing weight for a special event, while motivating in the short term, won’t sustain you over the long haul. Generally after the event is over, so is your motivation and drive to continue. Centering your why around longer term goals can keep you move forward when the going gets tough. In my case, my why is to maintain optimum health as I move into the next phase of my life. Seeking to avoid getting a disease such as Alzheimers keeps me focused and on track, even when I fall off the wagon for a few weeks here and there.

Success on this journey will require action. This action includes accepting personal responsibility for actions and not allowing yourself to make excuses when you fail to follow through.

Here are a few of the ways I have been holding myself accountable:

Planning

They say a goal without a plan is just a dream. That definitely applies to any health journey you are on. Planning is the biggest key to success. When I fail to plan I always end up on a bender. Planning includes shopping for healthy food, meal planning and scheduling workouts. Using a calendar and developing a schedule is the easiest way I get my daily workouts in. Blocking out a time to do it is critical. I am a morning person and I know that excuses will get the best of me if I try to workout at night. Knowing this, I plan my day around my workout. I get up early enough to fit it in each morning.

Menu planning and food shopping go hand in hand. If I don’t plan out my meals I end up cooking whatever is easy – pasta, junk food, etc. Whenever I am off target I know that it means I haven’t been diligent about shopping and planning. This is your best line of defense for success.

Share the Journey

For me, writing has allowed me to share my journey. It also holds me accountable. I find writing this blog very therapeutic as I work through issues I am facing myself. Making my journey public has also provided a means to hold myself personally accountable for my actions. I can’t sit here and write about things others should do if I don’t believe in them, or do them myself. This blog helps remind me of my why and keeps my focus on my goals strong. You don’t have to blog to share your journey. I imagine you all have people in your life that are on a similar journey. One of the best ways to stay strong and focused is to share your journey with a friend or loved one. Find yourself a partner and support each other along the way.

Positive Self Talk

Blame, negativity and excuses are hard to stave off. I’m working hard on using positive self talk to replace them whenever they rear their ugly heads. Find yourself a means to use positivity and gratitude to keep your spirits up. This will be a difficult journey and there will be times when your emotions take over. Having an outlet, or means to keep it positive will go a long way towards keeping you moving forward.

Tracking Progress

At the gym I always hear this, “What get’s measured gets improved.” It was on a radio playback. This is so true. Tracking progress will greatly improve your motivation and drive. Don’t just weigh yourself and lament over lack of weight loss. Measure all progress – This week I worked out six out of seven days, Today I ate three healthy meals, I slept through the night, etc. There are so many areas of our life that we can look to for progress. The scale is only one way to track our progress. In past blogs I’ve talked about taking your measurements as an alternative to the scale. Taking photographs is another positive way to see progress. Recognizing the daily and weekly successes to change our thinking is also a great place to celebrate process.

What are some ways you hold yourself accountable?  How do you maintain your positivity?  I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this as it surely can be a struggle for me.  Please take a moment to share your ideas in the comments below.  Also, consider sharing this blog with a friend who is on this path with you.