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Monday, July 30, 2012

Scenes from my weekend - Music

I love New York City in the summer. Yes, it can be hot and humid and gross, especially if you have to commute by subway day in and day out, but there are so many things going on from outdoor concerts and movies to farmers markets in full swing to free outdoor fitness classes. The city also seems to quiet down since many New Yorkers leave town. It almost feels empty at times. 

One of the best things about living in Brooklyn is the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series in Prospect Park. It brings together an amazing line-up of well-known and up-and-coming performers for free concerts throughout the summer. In all our years of living here, incredibly, Ed and I have never attended a Celebrate Brooklyn event. We've watched and listened from outside of the fence surrounding the event space but we've never actually been inside the fence. 

On Friday, we finally stepped inside. They've created this cool, laid-back vibe in the middle of Prospect Park, kind of like you are at a music festival somewhere out in the woods and not in the middle of Brooklyn. We went to see the Head and the Heart, a great band from Seattle. I first saw the band back in March and couldn't wait to see them again. It felt good to have an adult evening. 

Weekly Chase time! My goals for last week were to complete Week 1 of the JCORE and clean up my eating habits. Today is Day 9 of the 40 day program and I have to tell you, those 20 minute workouts are intense. It's not so much that the exercises themselves are hard per se but that they challenge your muscles to balance and stabilize your body which I believe is a lot harder than just pumping a lot of weights. I'm sore but in a I've-missed-feeling-this-sore kind of way. This week, I start a new set of JCORE workouts and I excited to see how the workouts progress and change.

The eating part...has been more challenging. I mentioned last week that I'm not good at sticking with a specific diet or meal plan. And I haven't. I'm not good at keeping a food journal or configuring my meals to meet a specific allotment of protein, carbs, fats, fruits and veggies per meal. I try to pay attention and make sure that I'm staying within the general guidelines.

Lastly, this wasn't in my goals for last week but I finally bit the bullet and set up a Facebook page for the blog. It's been a long time coming. Now it's up! It will be a place where I will share interesting tidbits, articles and workouts that I come across, keep you updated on ASP surf contests and be a place where we can have more conversation. Won't you come over, take a look and like my page if you're so inclined? 

For this week, my goals include:
  1. Complete Week 2 of JCORE
  2. Continue to focus on improving my eating by being mindful, eating more vegetables and protein (i.e. don't live on Chobani and granola alone), and drink more water. I realize that this is going to be an on-going process in order to change old habits. 
I'm also doing some other housekeeping here on the blog and there might be some changes coming up this week. Stay tuned!

Did you have a good weekend? What tips do you have to help you eat clean? What do you like to see on Facebook pages? What kinds of things would you like to see on my Facebook page?

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Round-Up - The Ocean, Lessons, Idols and Bob

Mystic, CT - We took the boys here over the weekend for the aquarium, seaport, ice cream and Mystic Pizza.

Hooray for Friday!! You know what I'm most excited about? The Olympics are starting!! I'm so excited. Are you? There are so many events and athletes that I want to follow. How am I going to keep track of the schedules?? While I ponder that, here are some great blog posts from this week for you to read.

Where are all the other surfer girls?
This is an interesting piece to follow up my last post about taking a vacation alone. The author Elizabeth brings up some interesting points that resonate with many of the comments you all left on my post - the need for downtime but also the desire to share that time with friends, family or significant others. She also talks about the gritty reality of traveling alone as a surfer girl. When I traveled alone, I did feel like I had to answer questions about why I was alone. But unlike Elizabeth, I was returning to the safe confines of a surf camp that made me feel a little less alone and like I was visiting friends. Also, she does a great job talking about some of the realities of being new out in the line-up at a surf break.

Pour Your Heart Out: The Ocean's Waves
Every week, Shell over at Things I Can't Say hosts this amazing meme called Pour Your Heart Out which basically offers bloggers a safe space to literally pour their heart out about whatever it is that's on their mind. This post reminded me why I love the ocean.

The Best Lessons Learned
I loved this post by Jules over at Pancakes & French Fries because basically, she describes my life. But seriously, Jules captures some of the hard challenges that comes with raising children, especially how we second-guess ourselves (a lot) but how those instances, more often than not, lead to the best lessons that our kids will learn.

I believe in you
Ilene at The Fierce Dive Guide to Life kind of went straight to my core with this post about the support that we all need to reach our goals. She's got a way with words.

On Creating Idols
Lindsay over at Lindsay's List did knock me to my knees and made me stop and think about the things in my life that I place more importance on than they may warrant. I've been struggling with determining and balancing the priorities in my life. I'm not the most religious person but I appreciate Lindsay's honesty and her faith.

It's Bob Again
Sigh. I'm kind of jealous of Kristin and her boyfriend - Bob Harper. Every once in a while, Kristin gets to tape a workout video for Bob's online training club. In her latest jaunt to LA, she did three killer workouts, including a one-on-one with Bob. Awesome.

Finally, I'm guest posting over at Cupcake Kelly's today. Kelly is training for the Nike Women's Half in October with Team in Training. I trained for the NYC Triathlon with Team in Training and today, I'm sharing my story. Come over for a visit!

That's it! Have a great weekend. Are you excited about the Olympics too? What's your favorite sport or event?

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A vacation alone

Have you ever taken a vacation alone?

Over the years, my answer to this question has changed. As a kid - no way. As a teenager and college student - hell yes. As a wife and mother - why would I?

Last year, I took a vacation alone. I went surfing for a week in Costa Rica. When I decided to go, I didn't really think much about the fact that I would be traveling by myself. I craved the time alone but I was returning to a familiar place with familiar faces. I was returning to surf camp. En route to Costa Rica, it dawned on me that this was my first solo vacation. I assumed that I must have traveled alone in my college or post-college days but I never did.

I needed the time away from home and for myself. I have learned that I definitely have to carve out "me" time in order to recharge, and I fiercely protect this time. There are so many demands on my time and attention and so many people that I want to care for and support that it can become overwhelming. I am the first to admit that sometimes I need a break from parenthood, work and life. Having this time alone to take care of myself lets me regroup and reset so that I can (hopefully) be a better wife/mom/friend. 

So have you or would you take a vacation by yourself?

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Monday, July 23, 2012

I want a JCORE Body!

This week marks four months since my knee surgery. Has it really been four months already? Sometimes it feels like surgery was so long ago and I feel like I should be able to do all the things that I want to do. Other times, surgery feels like it wasn't so long ago, especially when I tire easily or I can't quite sit cross-legged on the floor. 

I have to admit that it's frustrating when you have the desire to do move and you physically can't, especially when fitness and physical activity is a big piece of who you are and how you cope with life's many stressors. And, having battled body image and disordered eating issues, I'd be lying if I said that body image wasn't a big part of my frustration with the injury and recovery process.

Now, with my physical therapy progressing, I'm able to workout more but I feel like my routine needs a jumpstart. It's been a while since I've really focused on anything from my lower body that I almost don't even know where to start so I was really excited to hear about the JCORE Accelerated Body Transformation system

It's a 40-day program created by Jay Cardiello, a celebrity fitness trainer (he's trained 50 Cent!!), wellness expert and author. All you need is a 4x4 space, no weights and 20 minutes a day/4 days a weeks. As a working mom with two young kids, my time (and space here in NYC) is a premium. In order to fit fitness into my life, I need to be able to make the most of the time that I do have to work out. JCORE seems like a good fit for me. 

When I was initially considering the program, I had several questions about the workouts and if they were suitable for me given my injury and rehab. I wasn't expecting Jay to respond to my email personally. He assured me that JCORE was designed to accomodate all levels of fitness and all lifestyles and that the routines are demonstrated at a modified and intense pace so you can work at your own pace. Plus, he has had 13 major surgeries - 6 of them knee surgeries - and understood my concerns which provided an enormous level of comfort.

I started the program yesterday with the Fit Test - basically a test to see how many reps you can complete of 10 different moves. Sunday's test will serve as my baseline and I will repeat this test four more times over the course of the 40 days to track my improvement. Let me tell you, while the whole test took about 15 minutes, it was HARD! Seemingly simple moves challenged my body in ways I wasn't expecting. By the end, I was sweating and breathing hard. I can't wait to see what the rest of the program has in store. 

I missed out on last week's Weekly Chase but I am returning this week. A couple of weeks ago, my goal was to focus on getting more sleep. I was doing well with that one...until I started reading Divergent and then Insurgent (Book 2 in the series). Now that I'm done with both books and since Book 3 doesn't come out until May, I should be able to sleep again.

My other goal for the week is to complete week 1 of JCORE and to improve my eating habits. JCORE includes suggested meal plans. I've never been great at strictly following any diet plan so I know that there will be some flexibility to make this work for me. At the same time, I know that diet and nutrition are a key part of this if I want to achieve the results I want to see. 

How was your weekend? What do you have on tap for the week? Have you heard of JCORE? 

As a Fitfluential Ambassador, I received the complete JCORE Accelerated Body Transformation System to review and received no other compensation. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Round-Up

Quinoa Caprese Salad - YUM. Super simple and delicious. You can find the recipe from my friend Kristen here.

I've been a little distracted this week because I started reading a little book called Divergent by Veronica Roth. People had been telling me to read it for a while - that if I loved the Hunger Games, I would love Divergent. Lucky for me, as I was walking home the other day, a neighbor who lives up the block kindly left her copy out on the sidewalk for someone to take. Yes, that's what we do here in Brooklyn - we leave stuff that we no longer need/use out on the sidewalks for others to take.

Anyhow, I started reading the book and I Seriously, I have not been able to concentrate on my work or much else because the book sits there and stares at me and says, "Please read me. Just one more chapter." So I did and finished the book. But now, I have to read Book right now which means that I've been staying up way too late at night again. 

In between my fits of frenzied reading, I came across some great blog posts to share with you this week.

With the BlogHer conference coming up in New York City in a couple of weeks, this post by Fadra had me in stitches as she runs through the top 10 faces and expressions you will likely see at BlogHer or any blogging conference for that matter.

Ginger at Ramble Ramble poses an interesting question based on what she's been hearing and feeling in the online universe. There's a pretty amazing discussion going on in the comment section. What do you think?

We've all read and/or written a post (or two or three) about the comparison trap, either comparing ourselves to other bloggers, runners, mothers/fathers, surfers, athletes, etc. Melissa has found a rewarding approach to blogging - being true to herself.

Lindsay over at Cotter Crunch wrote this gracious post about her life and role in Cotter Team. Seriously, Lindsay and her husband James are an amazing team. P.S. Lindsay also makes these incredible, delicious, scrumpcious things called Healthy Bites. You should check them out if you haven't already.

I loved this post by Jess over at Eat, Drink, Breathe, Sweat about what drives her to lead a healthy and active life and why. Her recipe? Move. Move often. Eat well. Live. Live big. Rest. And repeat.

I know, this one sounds depressing but it a great story and puts things in perspective. I remember hearing bits and pieces about this book, written by an Australian nurse and singer, a few months back but never looked into it further. It's a great life reminder and goes back to the Busy Trap article I shared a couple of weeks ago. If you haven't read this already, please do. Thanks Bron for sending this to me!

And that's all she wrote for this week boys and girls. Now, I have to get back to my book!!

Did I miss a good post this week? Share with me please! Have you read Divergent? When does the third book come out??!?

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mercedes Maidana: Big Wave Surfer & City Girl

Growing up, I associated the company Patagonia primarily with their Snap-T pullover fleeces. All my friends had them and I desperately wanted one too. Little did I know that Patagonia was involved in more than just hiking, camping and climbing gear and supplies. It's also a great surf company.

Last week, I had the chance to hear one of Patagonia's Surf Ambassadors share her story at the Patagonia store in Soho. I love that Patagonia's Surf Ambassadors outnumber the number of Ambassadors in any one of the other sport categories.

Mercedes Maidana was a city girl from Buenos Aires who first tried surfing in her early 20s after a bad break-up. On a trip to Brazil with a friend, she borrowed a surf board and headed out into the line-up. As she lay on the board, she felt all the balled up anger and energy release from her body and she experienced pure joy - her first glimpse of happiness in 7 months. A one-week holiday turned into a three-month adventure. She fell in love with surfing and there was nothing else.

Since then, she hasn't stopped. She's traveled the world, chasing swells and catching waves. Ultimately, she settled on the North Shore of Oahu and her home overlooks one of the most storied breaks in the world - Sunset. She has been pursuing her dream of being a professional big wave surfer. She's been nominated for the Billabong XXL Girl's Performance Award - which honors to biggest ride on a wave - in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and won third place in the Women's Big Wave Exhibition at Nelscott Reef in 2010.

Mercedes is a super sweet, bubbly and gracious woman - not exactly what you would imagine as a big wave surfer. Surfing big waves has been a male-dominated pursuit - searching out the biggest and baddest waves out there. We're talking about 10-20 feet on the face of the wave. It takes a lot of a guts and nerves of steel as well as a hard exterior to take the beating by the waves. 

But really, I love the fact that Mercedes started surfing later in life (See??! It is possible!). She shared some great stories and humbling experiences, like being stuck underwater in a reef cave at Sunset, on the way to achieving her dreams. She trains hard - favoring high intensity interval training like Insanity and Asylum workouts, yoga, swimming - and generally tries to stay as active as possible. 

The biggest message that I took away from her story is the power of visioning and articulating your goals. Once you find your joy and it's something that's in your heart to do, there's no denying it. Eventually the right doors will open but it's on us to move towards those doors and to be prepared for that day but also provide the space to allow it to happen.

I had a chance to ask Mercedes a couple of questions about surfing and her outlook on life.

Are you seeing more women out there surfing big waves? Do you encounter much resistance as a woman? 
There are more women surfing big waves each year, at least that's what I witness in Hawaii! I encountered some resistance in my beginning years in the big wave lineups, but as the men who surfed there saw me over and over again, and they saw that I wasn't a weak surfer in the water, they totally embraced me and most of them helped me progress in the sport. When men see that you are so focused and you put so much effort in what you do, they appreciate that and they open up. I think that it's mostly the fear that they have that if you are not well prepared, you may become a hazard in the water or put someone in a risky situation. But if you can prove that you are just as strong as they are (or at least try), they know they don't have to worry about you and they don't have to take care of you in big waves.

How do you handle it when someone says to you "You can't or shouldn't be doing this" or, when you were starting out, "You're too old"? 
I kept myself focused and I tried not to give my power away to other people. There are many voices outside of us and inside of us that tell us that we are not good enough and not ready enough. And we may always have those voices speaking to us. What matters is how much attention we give to these voices and how we let them influence us in our day-to-day lives. If we have a desire coming from our heart, those voices might hurt for a little bit. But eventually, the desire is stronger and it is is on us to follow it and honor it, whatever our calling may be.

Who are your role models and/or mentors? 
So many people influence my life in positive ways: a lot of Waimea and Sunset Beach surfers that helped me grow as a surfer and set a high example of respect for the Ocean and others. I could mention Clark Abbey, Darrick Doerner, Greg Long, Jamie Sterling, and the amazing ladies that charge big waves such as Maya Gabeira, Keala Kennelly, and Savannah Shaughnnessy. There's also Yvon Chouinard who sets a great example of how to do business in the world while giving back and respecting nature and others (and go surfing in the meantime!).

Many of my readers are new surfers or those wanting to give it a try. What advice do you have for someone just starting out? 
I would tell them to persevere, as the beginning is always the hardest part! Once you figure out how to catch the waves and turn your board, it just gets easier and more fun all the time! I would also suggest that they take a few lessons at a surf school as they will learn the basics and get to practice in the right equipment for beginners.

What's one piece of advice that has stuck with you through the years? 
My meditation teacher once told me: "Live in the loving, live in the now, live one day at a time, one breath at a time." If we could do that we live in heaven on earth.

Where are you off to for your next adventure? 
I am growing my business in the self-development industry, working as an Abundance Coach, writer and motivational speaker. My bliss is to help people live their dreams and I share with them the tools and principles that I applied in my life to live my dreams. I want to spread a message of living an abundant, joyful, fulfilling life! I am now in Hawaii, working and keeping an eye on the storm models, because when some big perfect swell pops up somewhere in the world, I would love to go and keep improving myself in big waves! Thanks to Patagonia I am able to live my dream and grow as as surfer and as a person.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to meet Mercedes and hear her story. I loved hear her absolute enthusiasm and passion for surfing and the euphoria she describes from being out on the water. Thank you Mercedes! You can follow Mercedes on FacebookTwitter or on her blog.

{P.S. This isn't a sponsored post or anything. I was invited to attend the event and ask Mercedes some questions. I just really loved Mercedes' story and love Patagonia.}

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Memories Captured - Fountains

Little boys and fountains - they seem to be drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Jasper is definitely the instigator. Ever since he was little, he has loved the water. When we traveled to Italy with him when he was two and a half years old, we literally had to stop and visit with every fountain we saw. And if you've ever been to Italy, you know that there are a lot of fountains.

Everett, on the other hand, is a little more cautious in some respects. He doesn't like running through sprinklers but give him a bucket and he's happy as a clam filling up and emptying his bucket all day long.

However, put Jasper and Everett together and it's a totally different story. Maybe it's the brother thing but they seem to egg each other on. On July 4th, we found ourselves at Flushing Meadows Corona Park where there is the famous Unisphere and...fountains. This is what ensued...

Not surprising, I know, but the expressions and reactions on their faces were truly priceless. Both covering their mouths with their hands in excitement as they slowly inched further and further into the spray of the fountains and then quickly dashed out. At other times, linking hands to run through the water together, the little one always looking to his big brother. At one point, Jasper mustered up the courage to sprint through the sprays to the other side and to the base of the Unisphere.

Pure bliss. When was the last time you remember experiencing bliss like this? 

{Linking up with Alison from Mama Wants This and Galit from These Little Waves 
for Memories Captured}

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Round-Up - Close Call

This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just love these shoes and wish that I was wearing them
while watching the CrossFit Games in person. That's all.

This is the Friday Round-Up that almost didn't happen. Dramatic, I know but I have been without consistent Internet access since Tuesday. Tuesday people!! Almost three full days with no connection. I know what some of you might be thinking, "What's the big deal Christine? So you can't read some blogs or order stuff online. Disconnect. Unplug. It's good for you." 

In theory, yes. But the thing is is that when you are a self-employed consultant whose work largely revolves around researching, communicating and collaborating on documents online, it IS a big deal. No work = no billable hours = no pay. My husband an I have been running around to different cafes and restaurants to use their free wifi, calling the cable company, and waiting for the cable guy. My poor phone has been worked overtime trying to make up for my computer. Finally, on Thursday afternoon, our modem's lights twinkled and our router beamed a glorious green "all-clear" light.

I did manage to read some great blog posts this week and, of course, wanted to share them with you.

Negative Thoughts Are Wasted Space
I really loved this post by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean. I often fall into the same trap as Lindsay when I see pictures of myself which is why I don't like being in pictures much. But I love her approach to dispelling the negative thoughts. It's definitely worth a read.

Throw Out the F*cking Scale
I think that the title says it all. I don't weigh myself very often because I can easily become obsessed with the number on the scale. I love Bex's honesty in the this post and her message - that scales can't measure passion, ability, strength, compassion or potential.

Genetics Loaded In the Gun
This post by Carla over at MizFitOnline has generated some interesting discussion, the premise being that genetics loads the gun but environment pulls the trigger. I agree with this statement - that while we may be predisposed to certain attributes, diseases/ailments, behaviors, etc., we can create an environment that either stops or encourages its development. I've seen so many examples of people and communities coming together to change the negative systems around them and create a new reality / environment for themselves and their families. Where do you stand?

Are You a Risk Taker?
Missy at Literal Mom shares her story about running with the bulls in Spain. In her words, "Taking a risk like that brings on an almost unimaginable rush if you've never experienced it." But Missy's a responsible risk taker. For example, she uses a drunk Spaniard to shield her from a charging bull. Smart woman.

New York Introduces Its First Adult Playground
Did you read about this? New York City is testing the first adult playground in the Bronx and has plans to bring as many as 2 dozen more across 5 boroughs in next 18 months. Adult playgrounds are essentially outdoor gyms and are the City's latest effort to get people moving and to combat the rising rates of obesity in the city. I'd imagine that Jess aka Blonde Ponytail would have a ball coming up with playground workouts. Would you use it?

Lastly, Women's Running has a contest going on right now to choose a Cover Model for an upcoming issue. Dorothy from Mile-Posts is one of the women nominated and she is simply amazing. She is a marathoner, coach and mom of three adorable kids. She pushes all three in a stroller when she runs. It would be incredible to see her on the cover. Could you hop on over here and vote for her? It will only take two seconds. 

Tell me, what else did I miss this week? What would you have done without the Internet for 3 days. Share with me please! 

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Conquering Fears in the Pool

My older son Jasper has always loved the water and swimming. While he would hesitate and show some apprehension when trying activities like soccer or tumbling, he would dive feet-first into the pool without a trace of fear. We signed him up for swim classes when he was about 18 months old. He's been taking classes ever since and is starting to swim on his own. The first time that he put his head in the water, pushed off the wall and swam to his teacher, my heart swelled.

Jasper at 2.5 years old

So, when he started protesting going to his swim class a few months ago, I wasn't sure what to do. When he started screaming and crying on the pool deck, I was at a loss. I expected this kind of reaction when we introduced him to skiing in February. But with swimming? No way.

He gave a number of reasons for why he didn't want to swim but I knew that something had spooked him and had started to erode his confidence. I knew that he didn't like using the kick board but the barbells were OK. He didn't like swimming to the deep-end but jumping off the diving platform into the deep-end was OK. He tried to coax and encourage him. We tried to bribe him. We tried everything that we could think of.

As a parent, it's hard to watch your child lose their confidence, especially when it's something that you know brings your child so much joy. As a parent, it's also hard to be that parent at the pool / birthday party / playground with the screaming, kicking, whining child. My husband and I were so ready to throw in the towel, to give up and to let Jasper win this battle. I was so frustrated. I could feel the frustration pouring out of my pores. In part, it was because I love swimming and want to share that with my children.

But, since we had already committed to lessons for the summer, we decided to switch him to private lessons with his favorite swim teacher - his first teacher who he loves and practically would do anything for. If this didn't work out, we'd give swimming a rest for a while. Since then, it's been a slow process of rebuilding his confidence as a swimmer and making it fun again. By the second lesson, he was laughing and smiling. By the third lesson, he was using the kick board and learning to do the backstroke. I started to breathe a sigh of relief. 

This experience reminded me of a few things:
  • Don't push but don't give up. For me, I felt that it was important that Jasper keep trying. In life, he's going to encounter many situations that he doesn't like and that are hard but he needs to learn the skills to face those situations. Maybe that's the Tiger Mom in me coming out but I do feel that it's an important skill to learn. If he refused to swim and wasn't having fun, we would have stopped the lessons and taken a break from swimming.
  • Don't underestimate the power of being silly. I swear that the reason that Jasper got back in the water and was willing to continue with his swim lessons was because his teacher is hilarious. He makes jokes and makes Jasper feel like he's the funniest kid ever. 
  • It's a big deal to conquer your fears. Celebrate the small accomplishments along the way to help to build confidence. It's important to recognize the progress that our kids make. I know that it was a big deal that Jasper swam in the pool by himself without his teacher in the water with him and we celebrated that.
I am hopeful that this is a turning point for him. Our mantra through these last few swim lessons has been Brave and Calm. Yes, both Jasper and Mommy have to be brave and calm - the latter more so for Mommy.

How do you encourage your children when they are scared or lose their confidence? How do you build resiliency in yourself and in your kids?

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Scenes from my weekend - Cousins, Heat and Water

Oh my gosh this weekend was HOT! Was it hot where you are too? With my sister and niece visiting, there was no lounging around in an air conditioned house watching Wimbledon. There were three children to entertain (and to wear out by the end of the day) which meant lots of time at the playground and splashing in the sprinklers. It was fun to have the kids together. I grew up with my cousins. We saw each other practically every weekend. Now, it's fun to watch my sons' relationships with their cousins develop and evolve as they get older. 

Monday morning also means that it's time for The Weekly Chase. Last week, I set 4 goals to focus on:

1. Swim 1-2 times. Done! I swam 2 times last week and had good swims, the kind where it felt effortless in the water. Each swim was about 2500 yards and 40-45 minutes. I really love being in the water and find that swimming is one of the rare times that I manage to quiet my mind and slow things down.

2. Go to bed before midnight. Still working on this one but this is better than normal! I managed to get to bed before midnight 4 of 7 days last week. Two of those late nights were due to work. I really do need to work on this because I know that everyone is happier when I get more sleep :-)

3. Cook a real dinner at least 2 nights this week. Does it count if my husband cooked dinner?? This was a total fail. Honestly, I don't know what we (my husband and I) eat for dinner. The kids are fed three square meals every day. Why is it so hard to feed the parents?

4. Do physical therapy exercises every day + plank. Better than last week. I managed to remember to do my PT exercises 5 out of 7 days. Again, the two days that I missed were due to work. But, I have a renewed commitment to physical therapy. I decided to switch physical therapists this week and am so glad that I did. More on that later. I also did my plant-a-day thanks to Ilene's plank challenge.

For this week, I've decided to focus on 1 goal. I find that it can be hard to focus on more than 2 goals during the span of a week. I'm a perfectionist at heart and I don't want to do a half-hearted job. Plus, I don't know if I'm giving myself enough time to achieve my goals. Changing habits takes time. It can often take more than a week to recognize patterns behavior and then consciously make decisions to change that behavior. 

My goal for the week is to get more SLEEP. That's where everything starts, right? When you are well-rested, you are able to make better decisions about work, food, exercise, etc. Plus, I'm a much nicer, more patient and well-behaved person when I have gotten adequate sleep. I've been sacrificing my sleep for too long now and it's wearing on me. I'm tired!!

Help me - What are some of your tips for getting a good night's sleep? How can I make myself go to bed earlier? P.S. How was your weekend?

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Round-Up

This week was an odd week, no? With the 4th of July smack dab in the middle of the week? It felt like we had two Mondays instead of one and that's just not fair. In a roundabout way, we ended up at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on the 4th of July - site of the 1939/1940 and 1964/1965 New York World's Fair and current site of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Citi Field (where the Mets play) and NY Hall of Science. While my son looks calm and peaceful sitting there on the ledge of the fountain in the picture above, it didn't take long before he and his younger brother took off into the fountain. Who could blame them. It was HOT out.

But it's the weekend (Hooray!) and I'm looking forward to a visit from my sister and my niece. I just hope that we all don't melt in the heat. Here are some of my favoriate posts from this week.

This piece from the New York Times made it's way around this week. I saw this posted a few times on Facebook and shared more than a few times on Twitter. It hit a chord with people - I know that it did with me - about the busyness in our lives and how we have collectively forced ourselves to lead such busy lives. It's definitely worth a read if you haven't already read it.

Jess over at Eat, Drink, Breathe, Sweat is training for her first marathon this fall and she's been having some moments of anxiety and doubt. Many of us have been in the same shoes and Jess' post reminded me of the excitement and trepidation of going after our goals.

I loved this post by Melissa at Live, Love & Run (who also is the genius behind The Weekly Chase). Melissa has an incredible story and is training for the Chicago Half Marathon. She recently came to the realization that she wanted to work towards becoming a run coach.

Charlotte was recently chosen as a new Oakley Ambassador and spent last weekend in Napa hanging out with some pretty cool folks. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Oakley so it was fun to hear about their new products. Check out the video at the end of the post.

Lindsay at In Sweetness and in Health shares a killer total body workout. I can't wait to try this. 

Did you streak? Runner's World encouraged folks to run at least a mile a day between Memorial Day and the 4th of July. For those of you who completed the streak, Pavement Runner designed a nice little ole badge for your blog. How did he get to design the official Runner's World badge? He asked. 

Tell me, did I miss anything? What have you been loving this week? Plans for the weekend? Ideas for how we can entertain 3 kids ages 3-5?

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Defining "What's Beautiful"

Back in the beginning of May, I decided to enter Under Armour Women's What's Beautiful Competition - a competition to redefine the female athlete and find new faces to represent Under Armour Women. I was really unsure about entering, mainly because it required that I step firmly outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself. Frankly, I was scared and intimidated by all the other  incredible female athletes out there. 

In the end, I completed all 19 challenges and then some. I focused on my physical therapy and rehab, I rock climbed and tried stand-up paddleboard, I designed some gear for Under Armour, and I jump roped.

No, I wasn't chosen as one of the 10 finalists, but by the end of it, I really didn't care. The competition had become something more for me. You see, I tend to be more of an introvert than an extrovert. I don't like broadcasting my achievements. I'm not the loudest one in the room shouting to be heard. For me, sharing my story was my biggest accomplishment. For one of the challenges, we had to write a letter from our "future self" to our "current self." My note is below and I think it sums up what this experience has meant to me. 

More than anything, I have been so grateful for all of your support over the weeks - your comments, tweets and messages (and pictures and videos that I roped my family into sending me). Thank you so much. It truly meant the world to have your support and to hear that my story resonated with some of you. It reinforced for me the collective power that our individual stories can have to inspire, to change the conversation, to create laughter, and to connect with others - that's what's beautiful.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

30 Days of Green Smoothies

A month ago, I joined Amanda from Run To The Finish and committed to drinking one green smoothie a day for the month of June. I decided to do the challenge mainly because: 1) I wasn't getting enough veggies in my diet; and 2) I struggled with afternoon fatigue and often had a hard time focusing during that part of the day. I would often need a quick nap in the middle of the day in order to have enough energy to power through the afternoon and the dreaded after-school / dinner / bath / bedtime portion of the day.

For someone who had never had a green smoothie before June 1, the challenge wasn't as difficult as I was expecting it to be. I didn't find the flavor or texture that weird or different or gross. The greens just added another dimension to the smoothie flavor. I did have one smoothie each day for 30 days even while I was traveling. I guess it helps that I was traveling to places like LA and Asheville, NC.

Over the course of the month, I started to experiment a little more. I don't know if it's because I generally like smoothies or because I previously worked at Jamba Juice in college but I didn't find the green smoothies intimidating. I was willing to throw in any combination of greens and fruits/frozen fruit that we had in the house. My green smoothie concoctions started to take over my Instagram feed!

After my update following the first week of the challenge, I continued to notice some changes.
  • Less hungry before lunch and during the day: I typically have breakfast around 7am or 7:30am and am ravenous by 10/10:30am. During the challenge, I was less hungry before lunch, meaning that I was less likely to snack or take in extra calories. I tried moving my green smoothie to the afternoon to see if it would have the same effect on my afternoon cravings but I found that it was harder to make smoothies later in the day. I'm not quite sure why.
  • Drinking less coffee: Previously, I would be a wreck if I didn't have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. But during the challenge, I found that I didn't need or rely on coffee as much. I'm not sure if it was because I didn't want to drink a smoothie and coffee at the same time for breakfast. Sometimes I would have a coffee later in the day but there would also be days when I would have no coffee. That was an unexpected side effect.
  • Less naps: Along with the less coffee, I found that I wasn't taking my mid-afternoon nap at all. It wasn't that I was getting more sleep at night (I was actually sleeping far less hours). I was also super busy and stressed with work this month and frankly couldn't afford a cat nap. That may have had something to do with it but it's possible that the green smoothies helped too.
  • Requests from my husband: An unexpected side effect was that my husband is now hooked on green smoothies too. He requests green smoothies now, or at least insists that I make enough for two.

Over the course of the month, i figured out some tips and tricks that made the process easier. Here are a couple of things that worked for me:
  • Green smoothie for breakfast: It worked best for me to have a green smoothie first thing in the morning for breakfast when I was more likely to actually make and drink the smoothie.
  • Prep your greens and veggies ahead of time: This saved me a ton of time in the mornings. I would rinse and spin my greens and then store the greens in the salad spinner in the refrigerator. 
  • Balance the flavor: If I used a more distinctive vegetable in my smoothie (i.e. kale or swiss chard), I tried to balance the flavor with a sweeter fruit like frozen pineapple or mango. That helped to cut any of the bitterness of the greens and helped mask the flavor a bit.
  • Frozen bananas: Frozen bananas are a great addition to green smoothies. If you prep your own frozen bananas, do NOT cut some bananas up into slices and throw them all together into a tupperware container in the freezer. The banana slices will all stick together, making it kind of hard to actually get them out when you need them. Yeah, learned this the hard way. You can lay the banana slices on a plate or tray in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can combine them in a container and store in the freezer.
  • Add the greens first. I mentioned this before but just a reminder that you should add your greens as one of your first ingredients in your blenders This will help ensure that your greens get thoroughly blended.
I know that green smoothies aren't for everyone but it's safe to say that I'm hooked on green smoothies. While I may not have them every day going forward, I'm pretty sure that I will have them a couple of times during the week. Overall, I'm really glad  that I did this.

Are you a regular green smoothie drinker or a newbie? If you do drink green smoothies, have you noticed any differences in how you feel? Do you have any other tips to add to my list here? 

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Scenes from my weekend - Birthday

View from Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Yoga (1991) by Mark di Suvero

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

I've never really been a big birthday person. Maybe it's because my birthday is in the summer and, with most friends away or at camp during the summer, I never really had big birthday celebrations (I don't think?). So, it suited me just fine that my birthday on Saturday was like any other day - swim and gym class with one son and a day at the park with the family. We headed over to Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park - the gorgeous park that starts at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and wraps it's way around the Brooklyn waterfront. The sculpture in the picture above is by Mark di Suvero and is a 30-foot tall kinetic sculpture installed in partnership with Storm King Art Center. The large I-bean, which is bent into a U-shape, rocks and pivots along the pole and create different shadows and perspectives depending on its position.

On Sunday, we took a drive up to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture near Tarrytown, about 45 minutes outside of the city. It's a nonprofit farm and education center and operates a 80-acre four-season farm. It runs a number of education programs for children and families but also trains farmers (particularly young farmers) in resilient farming techniques. We've visited with the kids a few times before but I think that this is the first time that they were truly interested in seeing how the farm actually works. We explored the vegetable gardens and greenhouses, visited with the chickens, pigs, sheep, cows and turkeys, and had a picnic in the grass. It's a pretty cool place and I really admire the work that they are doing on broader initiatives to create a healthy and sustainable food system.

The Weekly Chase
Last week, I joined my friend Melissa from Live, Love, & Run in The Weekly Chase - a new project that Melissa is starting to connect bloggers with other bloggers to support each other up as we chase down goals that we want to accomplish for the week. It's super simple to join up. Just head over to Melissa's blog, grab a badge and declare your goals!

I accomplished 2 of my 3 goals for last week.

1. Green Smoothie Challenge: I completed the green smoothie challenge. I'll have more on green smoothies later this week. Thanks Amanda for putting me up to the challenge. I think that I've found a new love.

2. Swim once during the week: This almost didn't happen. For me, one of the hardest things about swimming is actually getting to the pool during lap swim hours which are typically early in the morning or in the evening. I committed to swimming early Thursday morning, but when I arrived at the pool, the pool was closed because the chlorine levels were too high. WHAT??!

What a little extra chlorine?? Luckily, the NYC public pools opened this week and we planned on taking the boys after camp on Friday. So, Ed was kind enough to hang out with the boys while I swam laps. I only swam half an hour and didn't feel great. A combination of being tired, dehydrated and out of swimming shape. But it was good to be back in the pool. 

3. Physical Therapy exercises: I did my exercises 4 out of 7 days - far from every day, which is what I was aiming for. Not good. Frankly, I forget about them. But, I know that I need to keep doing them. As my doctor said to me last week, I still have a long way to go in order to get back to where I started from.

My goals for this week are pretty similar to last week.
  1. Swim 1-2 times this week.
  2. Go to bed before midnight.
  3. Cook a real dinner at least 2 nights this week.
  4. Do physical therapy exercises + plank
Did you accomplish your goals last week? What are your goals for the week? How do you celebrate your birthday? Did you have a good weekend?

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