Kindness Benefits the Mind and Body

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It should go without saying, but it’s more important than ever to look for ways to help each other out in our own neighborhoods and globally. Look for ways to lift each other up when possible -even if its simply a kind word and approach things with the best intentions. And, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that most people in our lives try to act with the best intentions even if they annoy us. And above all — BE KIND. Kindness Matters always. 

Health Benefits of Kindness

Kindness Benefits the Mind and BodyDid you know there is scientific research that proves being kind and generous is actually good for your health? When you do something that makes you feel good, your body makes Oxytocin, which then releases nitric oxide which dilates your blood vessels and reduces your blood pressure!

Research has also shown a link between being kind and your body releasing dopamine, which helps with your mood and aids in giving you a sense of euphoria and eases anxiety.

Here’s some good info on Why Being Kind is Good for your Health to drive the point home even more…

On a related note, I do not share much related to religion here, however, this was a story and a lesson about kindness and support that should resonate with us all, especially now as we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and mean spirited politics…

 

“Let me tell you the secret of Judaism. When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, encourage and inspire others; then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well. That, my friends, is “Judaism 101”.”

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No Mediocre

Fitness is Rented and Needs to Be Paid Every Day

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Where have I been? What’s been going on? I wish I could share some exciting details or news, but the truth is I have been lacking inspiration and motivation the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the election results, or the change of seasons- whatever it is, it’s been affecting me big time.

Fitness is RentedNow that the holiday season is here, most of us will be out socializing a lot more than usual. I get invited to a ton of Holiday Parties and Happy Hours in December and if I’m not careful, I start to slip back into old eating habits. I’m sure I’m not alone.  Last week, during one of my Body By Wayne training sessions, I was bitching about how hard the workout was (something I do regularly). I asked Wayne why it’s so hard to stay lean and healthy. How come there isn’t a pill I can take to keep this way? I workout all the damn time –hard workouts, that challenge me in many different ways, but yet each time I go, it’s a mental and physical challenge once again.  It’s not freakin’ fair, but the truth is — Fitness is rented. You have to pay that rent each and every day. And if it’s important to you, then you will do it.

What keeps me motivated to stay fit?

Here’s some insight into how I think…

  1. I have seen far too many older people become immobile and unable to take care of their most basic needs without help. For some, it wasn’t something under their control, but for the vast majority – if they moved their bodies and paid a bit more attention to their overall health when they were younger, they wouldn’t be that way.  When I start to lament about having to workout, I remember this.
  2. When Scotty was sick with colon cancer, we spent every other Tues at Georgetown Hospital getting his chemo. I saw and met a lot of very sick people. Exercising is one of the best ways to prevent many cancers — and it’s an hour of of my day.  One friggin hour! And if you can’t do a full workout – then just go for a walk. MOVE YOUR BODY. I remember our time getting Scotty well and the people I met. 
  3. I live in the suburbs and I am seeing more and more, people my age ignoring their health. We are at the cusp of “no, we aren’t old” and “no, we aren’t young” and so many of take little time to take care of ourselves. We know how important it is – but tend to get wrapped up in everything else. I remind myself how important it is to take time for myself to take care of myself. Not only for my own well-being, but as a good role model for my kids.

After thinking about those three important things, how can I really not go and workout? Those aren’t trivial reasons and I have no real excuse to skip. Not to mention that I love the feeling I have after a good workout and the great people I have met through my fitness journey. Hopefully, the insight I shared will help motivate you to stop waiting and begin…

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Determination is your responsiblity

Election in America: Pulling up the Bootstraps

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Election in America: Pulling up the BootstrapsToday I am choosing Happiness. I am willing to accept the outcome (like I have a choice or anything) and will be figuring out how I help. For me, it was important to take time yesterday to feel what I was feeling. I am seeking to learn about the perspective of those that voted for Trump. I want to understand – really I do. One of the most shocking things to me about the election was the realization that I didn’t even know how a huge number of people were feeling in this country. I like to think I am a caring, smart, well-read person, so for me not to even know the disillusionment and anger that a huge percentage of people are feeling — it rocks me to my core.

I didn’t spend my time yesterday insulting anyone. I spent my time thinking about what happened and seeking clarity on what exactly happened. If you don’t understand what caused this outcome, than you can’t do much to fix it.

I am finding it difficult to understand some Trump supporters reasoning’s though. When asked about how they reconcile Trump being ok with having the KKK support him, I’ve read that “it’s a Democrat conspiracy”, even when presented with a tweet from David Duke himself. It seems that some of his supporters are fine with simply ignoring some of the dirtier aspects of their candidate while magnifying those of HRC.  I am truly trying to understand because I don’t.

However, I did read a really well thought out post yesterday from Alex Young that put some perspective around this whole thing for me and suggested a coherent game plan that we all need to get behind…

I am concerned about what Trump’s win says about us a country. We are really broken — and yes, we are America and will pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and fight against injustice. It’s in our blood. I trust in the great document that we live and die by created by our founding fathers. It has stood the test of time. But, this is a big shift in our country and a wake up call for each and every one of us. Yes, politicians come and go. Yes, I woke up today and have the same responsibilities to my family as I did Monday.  But, none of us should forget we have a responsibility to our country and to each of its citizens. We can’t grow and prosper without taking care of one another. And that’s what I am going to focus on.

Election 2016: Grasping for Clarity

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Struggling for ClarityWoke up to the news — I’m sitting here speechless, in tears thinking about how scary the reality of what has been done. My kids have to grow up with a leader who has been honest about his lack of respect for women, minorities, anyone not in his camp.

He has no plan, doesn’t do his homework, is unkind and disrespectful and lacks any self control. He gets to help pick a SCOTUS. He has Omarosa as one of his advisors.

This is America? This is not the America I want – and I’m sitting here thinking about how I’m not sure what to do and how to change it.

Someone this morning on FB mentioned not understanding the tears, that life goes on. I thought about that — Why am I crying? Why am I feeling scared? Do I lack faith in my country or fellow man? Do I not believe in kindness above all?

My tears are coming from a place of sadness, fear and anger that our great country is this broken and that people are so divided. It’s not about woe is me. The problem arises when you keep crying, unable to see clearly and get stuck long after today. Having to tell my kids that this man, who has said and done some really terrible things publicly, will now represent us globally is unsettling. Appreciation of our lives, knowing that life does indeed go on and stopping to feel whatever one feels are all ok.

How can anyone forget the KKK publicly backed Trump. He did not publicly say No Thanks which any decent person would have done. I’m trying to make sense of what happened last night. I am still in disbelief. I am struggling to understand how this happened? I am grasping for clarity…

Review: Thrive – Plant Based Nutrition Bars by GoMacro

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GoMacro Thrive I was recently sent a box of GoMacro’s newest bar — Thrive, a plant-based nutrition bar, which should be available at Whole Foods now. I’ve shared info in a previous post about GoMacro -so I knew I liked their bars, but I was interested in trying these bars because they use plant-based protein which I prefer because of my dairy sensitivities.

The GoMacro Thrive is available in six flavors that contain plant-based protein, essential fatty acids and prebiotic fiber to fuel your body and mind. 

GoMacro is a pretty cool company too. As I mentioned in my earlier postthese bars are made with quality ingredients and taste good.  The company is family owned and cause driven.  These bards are great if you are on the go and want a healthy snack that has protein!

GoMacro-Thrive: My FavoritesThrive bars are USDA Organic, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Kosher, Vegan and Low Glycemic and delicious. So far, my favorites are the ones that include chocolate! (no surprise)

Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

All of their bars are under 200 calories with 7g of protein. In addition to the two flavors above they offer:

  • Almond Apricot
  • Blueberry Lavender
  • Ginger Lemon
  • Caramel Coconut

They were all good, although I am not a huge fan of Ginger or Lavender in general, so those were not my favorite. So, with that said, I heartily recommend giving these bars a try!

Keep in mind, whole fresh food should always be a first choice – but we all need to live in reality and recognize it’s not always possible situation-ally or time wise to eat that way. We have to be realistic and fluid enough to accommodate life. So, my advice is to always make the best choice with what you have available. These bars are not perfect –they do contain sugar (although natural coconut sugar and brown rice syrup) – but compared to some other bars on the market, they are a better choice.

Get 30% off GoMacro: Thrive bars!

And because the people at GoMacro are so kind, they are offering a one-time-use coupon code (Thrive30) for 30% off to my readers to buy Thrive bars at gomacro.com

 

Disclosure: Although GoMacro provided me with samples, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the brand or company. 

Discover The Spice: Sumac

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Sumac - SpiceI’ve been meaning to share a find I recently made: the spice Sumac.  My friend Mastaneh had us over for dinner a few months back and we had seriously, the most delicious grilled chicken kabobs. They were flavored with Sumac. I had never heard of it — but apparently it’s a commonly used spice in the Middle East.

From my research, The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. The spice was long used in Europe to add tartness to many dishes until the Romans introduced lemons to the area. While it’s less common, the berries may also be sold whole. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish.

It also has antioxidant health benefits and is an anti-inflammatory. I was able to find it at Whole Foods, but like almost anything – it can be found online via Amazon too!

I sauteed chicken thighs, onions and garlic and add Sumac to the chicken as they are cooking. It’s so so good even my kids like it. And the leftovers even keep their flavor which is a bonus. Here are some ideas for using Sumac when you are cooking!

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Look for Inspiration and Be Curious

Get Out There and Socialize

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Halloween Party 2016I went to two get-togethers last weekend — I had so much fun. I was told quite a few times how in shape I looked.  It was a much needed affirmation that the hard work I’ve put in has been working. I’ve found, at least for women- we need visual proof before we really believe that we lost weight or toned up. Well – the pic on the right gave me the visual proof that I needed to see my results. (and that’s my friend Tank with me!) And, make no mistake — it’s been tough. Varied training 5-6 times a week and watching what I eat. Could I be even more careful with what I am eating? Yes – but I need balance, so it will have to do for now. I’m not training for the Olympics or anything. It’s important to keep your perspective in check.

Live Fit and Sore -FriendsI also was reminded that I need to make sure to spend more time with friends. I get so focused and busy with work, kids and ‘life’, that I tend to brush off plans friends try to make with me. I know it’s shocking but I think I am an extroverted introvert when it comes down to it. I really do love being around people but it drains me –so I also love spending time alone so I can recharge.  And Napping – napping is my favorite. But I felt so happy and loved being around friends. So, I’ve made a commitment to step outside of my comfort zone and accept more invites to hang out with friends. It’s so easy to decline –so I’m not going to go the easy route. It’s a lot less fun.

Halloween

And of course Halloween was yesterday! Here are my kids’ costumes. Each year, HB makes her own and this year was the best yet. She was a pineapple!! And I’m sure you can guess what Nate Dogg was…

Halloween 2016

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Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Your Hamstrings are Tighter Than You Think

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A Prayer for Yom KippurI am not super religious but take this day (Yom Kippur) to take stock of things and see where I can improve, and think about situations where I could have been kinder, could have helped more, could have been more understanding.  Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” and it’s a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year.  Some Jews fast and/or refrain from using technology.  So, as a way to atone for my sins, I hit up an afternoon class at Solidcore.  I struggle through each minute of the class and am generally uncomfortable, so I thought it wasn’t an inappropriate way to acknowledge Yom Kippur.

One of the moves we do during the class hammers the hamstrings. Not many people realize that tight hamstrings cause a lot of people’s lower back issues. And I have super tight hamstrings, so every time we do something that focuses on them – my back starts to feel uncomfortable. You know how to prevent that though? Specific stretching for the hamstrings!

Here are some great hamstring strengthening exercise resources:

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Working Off a Bad Diet is a Myth

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Calories in or Calories OutThis weekend I took a trip to NYC.  A huge part of my mini-vacation was eating. Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, Cannolis, and Drinking. I swear I gained back a ton of weight just over the weekend. And then I got to thinking about how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight even though I workout hard regularly.

I, like so many of you, grew up thinking if you work out enough you can compensate for eating a ton of crap food.  I have since found out that’s not necessarily completely true. It doesn’t tell even half the story of how it all works. If it was, I would be stick thin with how much I work out. And as I have shared here, I struggle each and every day to focus and make the right choices to fuel my body.

So, I decided to Google the topic and found this really good post by Authority Nutrition: Why “Calories in, Calories Out” Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story by Kris Gunnars. Gunnars really breaks it down in a way us layman peeps can understand. Here are a few of the standout points he makes:

  • The food we choose to eat on the regular is just as important as how many calories we actual eat.
    Depending on the food, the metabolic and hormonal impact varies depending on the person. So it’s a lot more complicated than just thinking a calorie is a calorie.
  • Weight gain can change your physiology. That change can make you crave more, which in turn means increased caloric intake.
    If your body has more weight to support, your body may crave more to keep the train running. So the idea that increasing caloric intake drives weight gain, but the gaining of fat actually is driving the need for increased calories.

This whole notion of calories in = calories out incorrectly simplifies a very complex topic and can set up so many of us to fail. We have these unrealistic and unattainable expectations. There are so many influences involved in maintaining a healthy body. Knowing about them can help us make the right choices to live our healthiest life!

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Cold Water - Justin Bieber

Well Fed, Healthy and Happy

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Well Fed - Melissa JoulwanI came home to a special package from Melissa Joulwan.  If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s the author of the popular blog The Clothes Make the Girl, which is now renamed to just her name alone and her Well Fed book series.  I’ve been a supporter and fan of Melissa’s for years now and have recommended her first Well Fed book before. If you are looking for really good recipes that meet Whole 30, Paleo, Clean Eating guidelines – look no further than her cook books.  Her recipes are by far the top of the top in terms of just being good food.  When people ask me for advice on going “paleo’ or starting a Whole 30 program — the first thing I recommend is to buy her cookbooks. Honest.

Want to buy the Well Fed books? Here’s a link to her online store and you can buy them through Amazon as well.  If you are looking for even more Paleo and Clean Eating resources, visit my Paleo/CrossFit resource area.

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Watch Kevin Hart and Conan O’Brien Do Crossfit Together

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Believe in yourself - Norman Peale

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