Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5 Candy Busting Moves In 5 Minutes!

Hello and Happy Halloween!

I know how busy Halloween can be.  We spend the day rushing from place to place, barely taking a moment to breathe.  Because of this, the day is usually spent eating less than healthy food and a good handful or three of candy.  I know you are busy, but I also know that you have 5 minutes to spare.  Really.  You do.
Today I created a workout that takes less than 5 minutes, will sculpt all those pudge-prone areas, and can be done in your jeans or everyday clothes. excuses!

The orange number is the reps you should aim to do.  If you need to rest, go ahead, but don't stop moving completely.  March in place or do arm circles to keep your heart rate up and to prevent it from dropping too fast.  

1.   60  Front and Back Jacks - Like traditional jumping jacks but rather than taking your arms and legs out to the side, go front and back.

2.  30 Squats - Stand with your feet just a little more than hip width apart.  Squat, like your are sitting into a chair, and return to standing.  Make sure to stick your booty out to keep your knees behind your toes!  Inhale as you squat, exhale as you come up.

3.  30  Mountain Climbers - Start in a plank, with shoulders over wrists, shoulders, hips and heels in alignment.  Keeping your hips low, bring one knee in and then the other.  Alternate like you are running in place.

4.  20 V-Tuck - Sit on your sitz bones (your rump!) lifting your chest tall.  Fingers point to your ears.  Straighten out your legs "make a V" and then draw your knees back in "tuck".  Inhale as your extend your legs, exhale as you bend.

5.  40 Flying Airplane - Start on hands and knees, shoulders over wrists, knees under hips.  Straighten out your left arm, right leg.  Once you are balanced, slowly take your arm and leg out to the side "like half of a letter X" and then back in. Do 20 on each side.

 That's it!  Your 5 moves to lessen the punch that Halloween can give.  If you have extra time, you can repeat this to make a 10, 15 or 20 minute workout.

As always, make sure that you are in good health and that your doctor has not told you to avoid any exercise(s) before you begin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A tradition of pumpkins

Last night we carved pumpkins!  This year was really fun because both of the boys are old enough to pick out what they want and even help a little with the carving.
They opted not to go to a pumpkin patch, saying a grocery store pumpkin was fine.  They spend so much time playing in the woods I think the idea of a pumpkin patch is sort of boring to them.  We really lucked out yesterday and showed up at the grocery store right when they were holding a Halloween event.  The boys got to color a picture for a contest, take part in a cake walk, and "trick or treat" through the store.  Fun!

Carving pumpkins has always been a tradition in my family.  My mom used to take my sister and I to a local nursery to pick out pumpkins.  We would then make the big decision of what to carve.  This was before the day of kits and fancy tools.  I remember free-hand drawing the Batman symbol one year and my sister cutting her finger on a kitchen knife while carving.  Definitely a labor of love back in the "olden days."  I can't talk about carving pumpkins without mentioning the year my best friend and I searched for a pumpkin on Halloween, the small college town she lived in not having any, and finally settling on carving a spaghetti squash.  I don't think I have ever been a year without carving a pumpkin...or some sort of gourd!

This year was super easy as I bought a new kit with plenty of skinny carving tools, a little rotary puncher for the templates and a scoop.
I still had to use my artistic skills to make a Creeper template for E's pumpkin.  If Minecraft is the cool game for boys right now, then my EZ is the king of cool.  Levi opted for a spooky face, he says is a devil.  Cool.
The whole process took less than an hour but we had such a great time.  We danced to the Monster Mash and also listened to Thriller in it's entirety.  Yep, it's still scary!

My template for a Minecraft Creeper

Hard at work.  Photo courtesy of Ezra.

Levi preferred playing with the guts.

Ezra taking a turn at carving.

Finished Jack-o-lanterns!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Take Your Algae!

I love all things green.  Something about being able to sip a drink, chew a tab or mix a smoothie that contains all sorts of green goodness has always appealed to me.  Although I do enjoy eating kale, spinach and other green veggies, I know that I don't get enough.  And green goodies like spirulina?  Doesn't really seem to make it into my daily diet too often.
So a couple months ago I was delighted to find out about Energy Bits from Katherine at Real Food Runner Blog.  I entered the giveaway and I won!  Energy Bits sent me a travel tin with their green algae energy tabs.  
If you know me you know that before I ingest anything I like to know what it is, where it came from and what it is going to do to me.  One of the best things about energy bit?  One ingredient:  Spirulina Algae.  And, even though they come in pill(tab) form, they are not supplements but FOOD.  So it's really dehydrated bits of organically grown, raw algae.  No added ingredients, fillers or binding agents.
So...what's the deal with them?

  • Spirulina algae is shown to open up blood vessels to give your brain and body a steady supply of oxygen and nourishment.  That means an energy booster without any chemicals!
  • Algae contains over 40 vitamins and minerals, along with a healthy dose of amino acids.
  • 1 serving (12 tabs) contains 64% protein!  In comparison, animal protein only contains about 22% protein per serving.  So that means algae really packs a protein punch in a animal-free way.
This is just a very short list of the benefits of algae.  To learn more click here to go to the Energy Bits site, where you can find out anything and everything you want to know about the tabs.
I love all-natural products and boosting my immune system.  Don't you?
It is recommended to take 20-30 tabs before exercise or activity.  Keep in mind these are food, not supplements.  They may come in tab/pill form, but think of them more like a snack that you can munch or swallow.

Dr. Oz on the detoxifying anti-brain fog properties of Chorella:

Can you get algae--spirulina and chorella--from other sources?  Definitely.  But Energy Bits are so convenient I don't know why you would want to.  

A serving is 12 tabs and EnergyBits recommends taking 20-30 bits daily to meet most dietary needs.  I was able to swallow 6 at a time, 2 gulps of water provided me with the full 12 in a serving.  I took them on a few different occasions, once on a Sunday evening, once in the afternoon after a long day of teaching and once before teaching a full schedule of classes.  I did feel like I had less hunger/food cravings and more energy.
So what about the taste?
You can swallow the tabs whole but you don't have to.  You can also chew them up like a handful of nuts.  So, I HAD to try chewing them, right?  They are described as having an earthy taste, and they do.  I would describe it like plain roasted soy nuts mixed with a little bit of ocean.  The taste didn't bother me, but the bits did stick in my teeth a bit.  I prefer to swallow them whole.

What I love about Energy Bits is the fact that they pack such a nutritional punch.  Plus, they are food, not pills, which means I can eat them on an empty stomach, on the go, in between classes.

I have a super special treat for you today!
Energy Bits has been kind enough to sponsor a giveaway of a travel tin of their tabs.  Entering the giveaway is easy, and there are multiple ways to enter:
  1. Head to the Energy Bits Website and then comment below about which health benefit of algae you are most interested in.
  2. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and then comment below to let me know.
  3. Follow Energy Bits on Twitter and Facebook and then comment below to let me know.
3 chances to enter, 3 chances to WIN! :)  Giveaway ends November 4, 2012, with the winner announced soon after.

ALSO--Energy Bits is offering a 30% discount on ANY of their bags of algae bits.  The discount runs until October 31st so act fast!  This is their first major discount they have ever is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month... and I am super excited to share it with you.  just enter the code BREASTCANCER into the coupon box upon ordering

A quick note from the Energy Bits company on why Breast Cancer awareness is important to them:

"As you likely know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. But what you may not know is that our company was started four years ago as a result of our Founder’s younger sister being diagnosed with breast cancer and being told by her oncologist to eat an alkaline diet to help her heal. When our Founder helped her sister learn what foods to eat (anything green) she discovered algae. The rest, as they say is history." 

Good luck on the giveaway and don't forget the 30% off discount for Energy Bits!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Finding A Therapist Part 3 or It's Time To Let Go

So I guess this is Part 3 in my "Finding A Psychologist" series.  It's the end of the series, but not the end of therapy.  I am my own therapist now and I use it every day.  For myself and to help out my family, my friends and my students.

When I first started going to therapy I couldn't wait to be finished.  I am a busy person.  Giving an hour each week, plus the co-pay, plus the drive time.  Ugh, right?  But Dr. S told me to not be so focused on the end but on the work we were doing.  Then I became used to going.  Used to hearing that I am normal.  It's nice.  I spent so much time thinking I was crazy that to have a degreed professional tell me that I am normal was amazing.  He made me realize I don't need to feel guilty all the time for being me.  That I can relax and be happy.  It has been about two and a half years since I first started seeing Dr. S.  In the beginning my huge accomplishments were things like taking the boys to Crown Center.  Going for a jog by myself.  Meeting friends after work.  Gosh, just getting to work and back or to the grocery store was a big accomplishment some days!
With the help of Dr. S I learned how to tackle my fears head on.  How to stand up for myself, how to deal with issues in my life that I had taught myself to ignore.  Each session was filled with questions, answers, homework...a plan for the week or few weeks ahead.  And then...  I was okay.  I mean, I still have bad moments, bad days, bad weeks.  We all do.  But last April, on a bright, beautiful, sunshiny day, I had an appointment with Dr. S.  I was already only going about once a month.  It went like my appointments as of late had been.  He asked how I was doing, I told him things I had accomplished, ways that I was using CBT to get through my days.  He would congratulate me, tell me I was a success story.  It's a great way to spend an hour, having a doctor tell you how normal you are.  But it was time to let go.  We had already talked about the fact that he would always be there for appointments whenever I needed them.   A check in, so to speak, every few months.  I can also email him whenever I need to.  We have also chatted on the phone on days when I needed a boost.  So we talked about just going in to maintenance mode, where I would make appointments only as needed.  Great, right?  Yes, very exciting.  I got in my car, drove away, so proud of everything I had accomplished.  And burst into tears.  Happy tears.  I thought of myself those first few appointments, those first few months.  Scared.  Alone.  Uncertain.  I then thought about myself on this day.  Vibrant.  Unafraid.  No longer chicken little.  A chapter in my life was ending, had ended months ago really, and that day was the actual closing of the page.  Do I still go back to Dr. S?  Absolutely.  I have an appointment next month!  But the days of "needing" that appointment, wanting to hang out in his office all day just to feel normal, are gone.  I know that because of the tools I now have that I will NEVER be the person I was 3 years ago.

I would like to mention something that I haven't had room for yet.  When I first started seeing a psychologist I felt abnormal.  I was told, by several professionals in the field, that more people than not see a therapist, are on some sort of medication to help with anxiety, depression, etc.  The more I open up, the more I find this to be true.  I am not alone and neither are you! It's hard for me to share sometimes, I don't want anyone to think differently or less of me.  So far, all the feedback I have received is positive.  I hear how others are in the same boat, have similar fears and things holding them back.  I encourage any one reading this to share in a way you feel comfortable.  Sometimes just talking to a family member or friend, hearing that they have felt the way you have, can do a world of good.  I was also told that most therapists see a therapist.  This has stuck with me because, as other trainers can probably relate to, I tend end up being a therapist for my clients.  I feel like this is the case for trainers, massage therapists, hair stylists, etc.  I love being able to give my students sound advice, but it can also be difficult to take on their problems and then be able to let it go.  Why am I mentioning this?  I am not sure.  I just feel like it is an important piece of my story that doesn't really fit anywhere else.  I know some of my students read this, and I don't want any of you to feel like we can't talk about your day, talk about your highs and lows of the week.  I more want to share this because I think it is interesting that therapists go to therapy :)

Thank you so much for reading this series and my blog in general!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quiet Time

Okay, this post is going to (sort of) be about meditation.  Not the type of meditation where you sit on a hard tiled floor, cross-legged, hours on end waiting for a light  or a spark or something.  I am in no way discounting that, but, lets be honest...most of us don't have the time or desire to meditate in that way.
Meditation can come in many forms.  Today I am going to talk about quieting your mind and body, even if for just a few minutes.
I find myself never really having quiet time anymore.  Between TV, movies, podcasts, playlists, and the never-ending stream of social media updates to my phone, I have a noisy life.  It's great, I love that I am busy and that my days are filled, but what about the all-important quiet?  Time to reflect and think.  And I don't think this should happen at bedtime.  I feel like maybe that is why so many of us have trouble sleeping.  From the time we open our eyes in the morning until we plug our phone in, bedside of course, we are "on".  So, the only time to reflect is when we are supposed to be falling asleep.
Today I would like to share with you a way to quiet down, to give yourself a few moments of peace.

Pick a comfortable spot for you.  I will typically lie on my bed, but if you are they type of person that will fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, you may want a different cozy spot.  You don't have to be lying down.  You can sit in a chair, lie on your couch...whatever works.

Set a timer.  I use the alarm on my phone.  Set it for 10 minutes.  This way, you will have 10 minutes of peace but you won't be checking the clock the entire time.

Relax. One step at a time, relax.

*First, take deep breaths.  Fill your lungs and empty your lungs.
*Next, allow your body to relax.  Imagine each muscle relaxing and let tension melt away.  Let your arms, legs, neck and shoulders relax.

*Close your eyes.

And just focus on your breath.  If you have a busy mind, this will be difficult.  As you inhale, think "inhale" and as you exhale, think "exhale".

*Pay attention to your body.  How does the chair feel under your arms?  Are you cold?  Hot?  Is the air around you still or is there a breeze.  Acknowledge how you are feeling, what you are hearing.
If you are like me, every few breaths your "regular" thoughts will creep in.  "What should I make for dinner?"  "I should go vacuum."  Acknowledge the thought, but then place it to the side and continue to just think about your breathing, relaxing the muscles if needed when they tense up.  If a certain worrisome thought continually pops into your mind think on that.

Here's an example:

You are doing your quiet breathing but you keep thinking about how you need to lose 10 pounds.  This is the perfect time to think about that!   Ask yourself why you need to lose 10 pounds.  Is it health related?  Is it because none of your clothes fit anymore?  Ask yourself how you gained the weight and why you haven't lost it.  No time to eat right?  Too many sweets and not enough veggies?  Ask the questions, then answer the questions.  You don't have to solve the issue, just address it.

Before you know it the time will go off.  Hopefully you are feeling a little more relaxed and refreshed.  As for those worrisome thoughts?  Now is the time to devise a plan.  What answers did you give while you were relaxing and breathing?  Think of those answers, what is standing in your way, and make changes.  

Geez, I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg, and it really is.  The most important thing, though, is to give yourself just a little time each day to breathe and think.  Maybe you only have 5 minutes, and that is okay.

Would you like for me to talk more about quiet meditation?  Let me know.  I am in no way an expert but I can definitely share what works, and what doesn't work, for me!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cooking With Blogs

I love looking to blogs for new recipes.  It's a great way for me to stay motivated with my cooking and to try new and inventive recipes. I typically plan my meals for the week on Sunday or Monday so I hope that this post helps you plan for the week ahead. Today I would like to share three recent recipes that I have tried and loved!

Fried Quinoa

I follow Amy of Buggie and Jellybean not only on Blogger but on Instagram.  So I first saw the post on Instagram and, because of my love of all things quinoa, knew I had to try it.  The fact that it is an asian-inspired dish did frighten me a bit.  I LOVE Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietenamese cooking.  But every time I try to cook it myself...well...lets just say I have burnt things to the point of having a smoke-filled kitchen.  And if I reach the end of a recipe without burning the food, it is edible but definitely not in my top 10.  But I HAD to try this.  The recipe is super easy to follow and mine turned out wonderfully.   The boys loved it, too.  I made it twice within a week's time.  It's that good.  Click here for the recipe and while you are over at Amy's blog check out her other recipes, DYI's and more!

Chia Seed Pudding

Say what?  It sounds strange and looks equally as strange.  Danielle over at Sometimes Sweet shared the recipe that she tried from Trader Joe's.  I like the health benefits of chia but am not a fan of it in smoothies, so I wanted to try this.  I used coconut milk.  After about an hour in the fridge I gave it a few more stirs, added about 2 tsp of honey and some dried berries.  Then I went to bed and woke up to a tasty, odd-looking breakfast.  I also ate it for lunch after I taught 4 classes in a row.  It is satisfying and definitely a good mid-day snack choice.

Orange Chicken

I love slow cooker recipes.  I work on Wednesday evenings but am home most of the day.  I love the feeling of throwing something in the slow cooker that JF and the boys can eat for dinner.  I found this recipe for Orange Chicken on the Six Sisters Stuff blog.  So many good things in one place!  The chicken was really good!  I can't say I would compare it to Orange Chicken from Panda Express, which is fine because that is fried and way to heavy.  Kid-approved, tasty and easy recipe.  I served it with steamed broccoli and a brown rice/quinoa blend.  So good!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Me, today

Happy Friday dear friends!
October is flying by for me.  I feel like we are rushing, happily, from one event to the next.  Being busy is good.  The weather is up and down, from beautiful sunshine to clouds and rain, and I am trying to enjoy them all.
Today feels like a good day for a "Currently" post, so here we go :)

Halloween!  I need to make a Creeper costume for E.  I haven't even started.  Eeek!  It requires boxes, printing out lots of green squares and making it up to his specifications.  I think it's time to get started, don't you?

Listening to:
This weeks "This American Life: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple".  The interview with the teenage girls that are at the diner reminds me oh-so-much of myself and my besties way back when we used to spend our nights at Denny's.  I am about half way through this podcast and can't wait to get back in my car to listen to the rest.

Time with my boys.  At 10 and 4 they are just so much fun.  I can really see their personalities, differences, similarities.  Do they try my patience at time?  Most definitely.  But I am trying to just take a breath, stand back, and let them be boys.

How to organize my house and keep it organized.  I feel like I am ALWAYS cleaning, always organizing and I would like to have a better schedule so that I can have some relaxation time at home rather than always straightening up. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Today when I get home I will be going through the newest Everyday Food.  I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas issues.  So much yummy goodness!  The cover of this one has a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich.  You had me at hello, EDF.

Revolution.  I am only 20 minutes into the first episode.  So far it is okay.  More of a rip-off of "The Road" than "The Hunger Games."  I am going to give it a try, though.  I am pretty much done with Grey's Anatomy.  I know that everyone I know and love, including myself, is going to die someday.  I don't need to constantly be reminded of that every week by a TV show. I know it's a drama, but I don't know why the story line always has to involve crazy soap opera type plot lines with car accidents, plane crashes and gun men.  Plus I am so over dealing with Christina Yang and her weaknesses.  She's supposed to be the strong one, yet each season has her sniffling and sobbing over something else.  Okay.  I am done.  Unless you want to rant with me.  Shoot me an email!
Oh, and BASEBALL!  The Cardinals have made it to October again this year and I am really enjoying watching the games.  I rarely see regular season games because we don't have cable.  GO CARDS! 

That I could be two places at once.  I love my job(s).  Teaching Pilates, managing a fitness studio.  Helping people move better, live's great!  But, I also really like being at home.  With my boys and husband.  And I feel like I could be much more organized at home if I just had more time there.  I am so fortunate to be able to work about 30 hours a week, which still gives me plenty of time at home, but I often feel like I can never fully accomplish what I need to at either place.

Working on:
Getting on the Reformer at least once a week.  Just for me.  Not only so that I can stay current in the work for my students but I also have noticed I feel and look better when I work on the equipment. (duh!)

A couple fun fall pics:
Amazing yellows!

Which one is me?

Don't forget to enter my Cheribundi giveaway!
Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today I am tired

Do you ever have those days when you are just worn out?  I feel that way today.  My muscles are sore, it's hard to concentrate, and I just would like to sit in bed and watch Revolution.  I'm only 20 minutes into the first episode, so let me know if it's lame and I am wasting my time.
I had planned to run sprint intervals for 10 minutes today, but ended up walking incline intervals for 5 minutes and only running sprints for 5 minutes.  A good 10 minute workout, but 10 less than I had planned.  My legs just didn't have it in them.  A few years ago I would have pushed myself through the entire workout, but one thing I am learning is to listen to my body.  Because of my career I need to be able to be on my feet teaching and have the energy to do it well.  My work is a workout so my workout needs to suit energy level for that day.  I am hoping that by taking it easy today I will be able to do a 4-5 mile run outdoors this weekend.
What about you?  Do you push through or stop when that little (worn out) voice tells you to?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What's a Burpee?

If you know what a Burpee is, you probably groaned when you read the word.  For those of you that don't know, today you will!  In the past few weeks I have posted sample workouts along with my Workout Wednesdays bios.  It seems like burpees come up quite a bit, here on the blog and on my Instagram.  So today I would like to share with you how to do a burpee.

There are several different variations and modifications.  This one is my favorite.

1)  Start in a standing position, squat all the way to the floor, placing your hands on the floor, shoulders over hands.
2)  Keep your legs together and jump back to a plank.
3) Do a push up.
4) Keep your legs together and jump back to the beginning tight little squat.
5) Jump up!  "Reach for the sky"

Feet together, jump back!

Plank, then a push-up, then jump back to start.

Jump as high as you can!

The first one or two feel great and so much fun.  By 4 or 5 they start to get rough.  By 10?  Feeling the burn for sure.

So, what does a burpee do for you?

  • Constant movement elevates the heart rate providing a burst of cardio to your workout.
  • The jumping works short twitch muscle fibers as well as strengthening the legs.
  • The push up works the chest and abs.

Burpees are great because you can do them anywhere and add them to any workout.  For a circuit workout I like to try for 60 seconds of burpees or doing 10-20 in a row.  Also a great couch potato workout:  see how many you can do each commercial break!

As with any other exercise, make sure you are in good health and can safely perform the exercise.

Have fun!  What are your thoughts on the Burpee?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cheribundi Cherry Juice

I love fresh cherries.  I like them plain, I like mixing them into salads and baking with them.  In recent years I have heard how good cherry juice can be for you but I had yet to try it.  To pay around $20 for a small bottle of cherry juice concentrate just wasn't at the top of my shopping list.
And then I heard about Cheribundi.  Cheribundi is single-serving bottles of cherry juice.  Plain along with several other flavor options.
I was super excited to try them out!

I love that each bottle clearly states how many cherries are in each bottle.  50 cherries in a bottle of Tru Cherry, which equals a half pound of fruit!  Definitely nice to know, any day, but especially those busy days when it feels like it's hard to get anything healthy.  The juices are not from concentrate and are allergy friendly.  Only Whey Cherry contains milk.  The cherry flavor is very intense (duh, it's cherry juice!) but I really like the tart/sweet taste. It's more for sipping rather than chugging, perfect for the drive to work or for a mid-day treat at your desk.

Both E and L loved Cacao Cherry and JF tried the juices, too.  He's not a big juice drinker OR fruit eater, but I noticed my Cheribundi bottles disappearing.  I think it's safe to say my husband is a fan!

Drinking the juice straight from the bottle is great.  You can also add it to smoothies.  I created a recipe for vegan fro yo below, and I think the juice would also be great for de-glazing a pan!

The benefits of cherry juice are ever-expanding as more and more research is done.  I like that cherries and cherry juice can help to fight free radicals and to aid in muscle recovery.

Whey Cherry  40 Cherries!
This is the first one that I tried.  I am constantly looking for extra sources of protein.  I do eat meat, but I don't eat a lot of it, but I am very active and if I don't get enough protein I tend to feel tired and gain weight.  I am also always looking for healthy, fast options that I can drink or eat between teaching classes.  In an 8 fl oz bottle there is 8grams of protein, along with 100% daily values of several vitamins, including B12 & 6 and Folic Acid.  I drank this on my way in to teach one morning and it was a great way to start the day without being too full to teach cycle class.

Ginger Cherry 50 Cherries!
Cherry Juice by itself has been shown to help with oxidative stress and muscle recovery, which totally interests me because my body does a lot for me throughout the week as I teach around 15 classes and run 4-10 miles.  I have been on a kick lately of trying different natural anti-inflammatories, and ginger is at the top of the list.  I have never been a big fan of the spicy taste of ginger, so I was least excited to try this one.  But I also LOVE the idea of a double dose of anti-inflammation.  There is a definite kick of ginger, but it is manageable even for someone like me.  I also used Ginger Cherry as a smoothie base and it was SO good!

Tru Cherry  50 cherries!
Cherry juice.  Tastes like cherry pie cherries.  Seriously.  If you like cherry pie you will like Tru Cherry.  Great by itself or in a smoothie.  Check out my recipe below!

Skinny Cherry  40 cherries!
Same refreshing tart cherry flavor but with 90 calories rather than the 130 calories in Tru Cherry.  It is sweetened with Stevia leaf, a natural sweetener.  This is a great option for anyone trying to limit their sugar intake.

Cacao Cherry  50 cherries!
To say this one was my favorite kind of feels like cheating.  I mean, it's chocolate and cherry.  Right there this guy has the advantage.  But how can you NOT have this one be your favorite, right?  Another great choice for post-workout or to help out when you have a chocolate craving.  The chocolate flavor comes from cocoa powder, so it is natural and not too sweet.

3 Ingredient Vegan Fro Yo

Cherry-Chocolate-Banana "Fro Yo"
You will need:
1 Banana
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp Cheribundi Cherry Juice - I used Tru Cherry, but Ginger Cherry would be great, too!

Peel and slice the banana and freeze for 2-3 hours.
In a blender or food processor, combine the frozen banana with the cocoa powder and cherry juice. Blend until smooth.  Eat immediately!

I know what you are thinking:  I want Cheribundi NOW!  Well, today is your lucky day!  Cheribundi would like to send one lucky reader a case of cherry juices.  Once again I am using Rafflecopter.  Don't worry, neither Rafflecopter or I will share your info.  I just want you to win. Oh, and follow my blog :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure you follow Cheribundi on Twitter and Facebook.  I do and I love the recipes and tips they post daily!
One more thing:  when I posted a picture of Cheribundi on Instagram I was asked by several people where they could find it.
For those of you local to Kansas City you can go to Nature's Pantry in Independence or to Whole Foods in Overland Park.
For my readers elsewhere click here to locate a retailer near you!

**Cheribundi sent me a case of 12 juices to try but I was not compensated for this post.  All of the opinions are mine**

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Finding a Psychologist - Part 2

Before I get started with part 2, I should mention that all of this took place nearly 3 years ago.  The bad psychologist, finding my current (and great!) psychologist.  I am currently going to therapy as needed, a big step!  More on that soon, but I just wanted to share with you that, as of right now, I am doing great!

My therapist diagnosed me as normal!  Woo hoo!

Alright.  So, I knew that I needed to find a psychologist to help me work through my problems with anxiety.  But where to start?  I had a list of names that consisted of doctors that took my insurance.  I had been told that I should look for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a form of therapy that teaches you how to look at situations objectively and essentially become your own therapist.  I looked at my list and chose based on proximity to my house.  I knew that I would need to be making several visits per month and I didn't want driving to therapy to cause added anxiety.  I called.  The doctor himself answered.  I explained my situation, asked about CBT, and he told me that he loved CBT and it was one of his specialties.  Seemed to good to be true.  I scheduled my first appointment.  I was optimistic because I really wanted to get help.  But the bad psychologist experience was still fresh in my mind so I was cautiously optimistic.
The first session consisted of me telling Dr. S about my current fears, worries, etc.  He then told me the line of treatment he would take.  He gave me homework.  Something to work on during the week that would not only help me deal with panicky situations but begin to get me to think objectively.  He also told me to really think about the appointment, the therapy.  If I didn't think it would help me, I could let him know.  He also said that, from his experience, people with anxiety tend to do very well with CBT because they want to get better, they want to work on their wellness.  And I really, really did.
He told me to come back in a week.  I didn't want to leave!  If you see a therapist, you know what I mean.  For that hour I felt normal.  I felt calm.  I just wanted to hang out in the lobby, like, forever.  But I went home.  I worked on my homework.  I can't even remember what I was supposed to do that first week.
Dr. S showed me a picture of people on a roller coaster at one of those first appointments.  In the front car is a mom and child.  She is screaming and looks terrified and is clutching her child, who looks equally afraid.  The second car has people that are holding on, they look semi-afraid, but they are okay. The next car shows two people smiling, holding their arms up, really enjoying the ride.
At the time I was car number 1. We talked about how they were all on the same roller coaster but that each of them interrpreted it differently.  No one was going to die on the roller coaster.  It would go up, down and around and then safely come to a stop.  They would get off, go home, and life would go on.  Unless you are the terrified lady.  She can't get over the coaster ride.  Can't stop clutching her child, making her child afraid even though she thinks she is protecting her.  So I think my first homework assignment had something to do with stepping back from situations and seeing them through different eyes.  Driving on the highway?  Aaaahhhh!  I 'm going to die!!!  Wait.  What?  I 'm not?  It could be a fun trip where everything is fine?  Oh.  Okay.
Each week I would tell him how the week prior went.  We would go over how I dealt (or didn't deal) with anxiety-causing situations.  We would work on something new and I would have new homework.  At the time, my low-blood sugar episodes would cause me to feel out of it and then I would start to panic and be afraid that I wouldn't be able to take care of the boys.  Prior to starting with Dr. S I would sometimes end up calling my husband or mother-in-law, in tears, asking them to come to the house.
How to deal with that?  This seems torturous, and in a way, it is.  I wouldn't try it without first consulting with your own therapist, but, after many weeks, many sessions, it worked for me.  Dr. S had me say out loud exactly what I was afraid of, only I said it like I wanted it to happen:
Fear of not feeling real (from blood sugar, panic, etc.)
"I don't want to feel real."  "I want to freak out, panic, and have to stay home all the time."  "I don't want to take care of my kids."  "I want to cry, freak out and call my husband."
I would say that out loud, as many times as needed, and then what ended up happening is me saying "NO!  I don't want to panic,  shut down, and cry.  I want to be with my boys, have fun, take them places."  It really did work for me.  Again, over a many-month period, not over night.  It basically causes you to have a fight with that internal feeling of anxiety or panic.  The old devil on one shoulder, angel on the other.  Only, for me, it's panic Sally and calm Sally that duke it out.
This is just a small example of the CBT work that we did.  I spent a good year learning different coping skills, different ways of looking at things.
In the beginning I went once a week.  Once I was doing well with CBT and feeling better we went to every other week.  I remember the session when Dr. S pulled up his calendar, like he would do at the end of each session, usually saying something like "When can you come next week" or "Let's try going 2 weeks" but instead he said I should go 3 weeks.  What?!  It seemed like an eternity.  From what I remember, the first time he suggested I got wide-eyed and was like "no way" so he said to just keep it every other week.  Eventually, though, I did realize that I could make it for 3 whole weeks.  And then 4.  And then 6. It has always been up to me, the patient.  Even if Dr. S thinks I am doing better but I don't feel that way, then I can schedule when I want.   But I am jumping ahead.  I plan on sharing about stepping away from therapy as the final post in this series.
Next post will delve a little deeper into the time between those first few sessions and now.

Let me know your thoughts.  It's a big deal for me to share this.  It's embarrassing to have anxiety. We all want to appear as though we have it under control. But it's also so very common.  The more I share, the more I find this out.  I have always, ALWAYS, been looked to as the rock, the constant, the normal one. And I am.  I really am.  But I also have anxiety.  And that's okay.  I got this.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Workout Wednesday V3

Today, I am so excited to introduce you to Anne Brammer.  I have worked with Anne since 2003 at the YMCA and have always looked to her as a role model, not just for health and fitness, but as a mom and wife as well.  She lights up a room, or gym, with her enthusiasm and genuine caring attitude.

Name:  Anne Brammer
Age: 48 (not a typo...I know...she looks at least 10 years younger!)
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Fun Stuff:  Mom to 3 college-aged+ children, exploring the world of cycling with her husband.

1) Where are you at right now with your fitness routine?
I am in a maintenance phase rather than a beginner or building phase.  Working out and eating right was a lifestyle change in order to stay where I want to be.

2)  What is a typical week like for you, for your workouts?
I do cardio at least 3-5 times a week based on how I feel.  Some days I will workout longer at a lower intensity, but when I am feeling really energized I will ramp up the intensity.  Treadmill and biking are a couple of my cardio sources.  I strength train 3 times a week, mostly working with free weights.

3)  Now that your children are out on there own do you find it easier to workout or is it easier to slack off?
It is definitely easier now.  I have more time in my day.  My husband and I work out together, also.  We  have started biking together, mostly on trails.  Biking feels different, more energizing, to me than walking or running.

4)  What is your least favorite workout?
Abs and leg work is not something I necessarily look forward to.  I hired a trainer and worked with him 30 minutes 2 times a week to get motivated and learn new ways to sculpt my core.  A trainer needs a trainer!  I have been able to continue doing the ab work and it has also helped me have new exercises to share with my clients.

5) Do you follow a strict nutrition plan?
I count calories.  I don't know how to not count calories, I can't help it!  I use paper and pen and total it at the end of each day.  I am big on measuring what I eat, portion control is a big thing.  I have been doing that since 2007.  I feel like I need to count calories to give my willpower a boost.  When I count calories it's easy to see that a handful of almonds is way better than a handful of chips.  If I absolutely "need" chips, I will count them out.  It would be easy for me to eat multiple servings if I don't portion my treats out.

6) Do you ever cheat on your diet?
I slack every now and then, but I know that I can ramp it up when needed [because I will be at work, at the gym, within a few days].  I love Italian food.  When my husband and I eat out we split the entree and order an extra salad.  It helps so much when your spouse is on board.  We went away for our anniversary and splurged a little, having cheesecake and coffee for lunch, but for dinner we kept it light and healthy.

7)  How did you become a personal trainer?
After my third child it was really tough to lose the baby weight.  I tried shakes and pills, but it just wasn't for me.  I began to do aerobics and joined the YMCA.  I read an article that talked about how important strength training was to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.  I decided to try weight lifting and was hooked!  I first worked in Childwatch (childcare), then the fitness floor.  In 2005 I became and ACE certified personal trainer. 

8) What does being a personal trainer involve, for you?
I work with people of all ages.  Twenties all the way up to people in their seventies.  I work with stroke victims, helping them to stay strong and sometimes re-learn body movements.

Personal Training for every stage!

9)  Do you have any advice for moms needing motivation?
Don't try to be a martyr, be a mother, but take care of yourself.  If you aren't working on yourself, how well are you really doing in the other areas of your life?

Anne's Back & Bicep Workout:
  • One arm bent over dumbell row  3 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Wide grip pulldowns (machine)  3 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Close-grip seated cable row (machine)  3 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Straight-arm pulldowns (machine)  3 sets, 15-20 reps
  • Barbell curls  3 sets, 8-12 reps
  • Incline (bench) dumbell curls  3 sets, 15-20 reps
  • Preacher (bench) curls  3 sets, 15-20 reps
Anne's tip:  A 4 day training split, I focus on two muscle groups per workout.  The exercises include both multijoint and isolation movements. 

Barbell Curls
Look at those guns!

What a great upper body workout!  If you want to try this workout but aren't sure what weight to start with, talk to a personal trainer just like Anne!

Monday, October 8, 2012

LA Fresh

If you have not heard of LA Fresh before, you are in for a treat!  Beauty products, personal care products and so much more.  Not only are the products great, but the company is very eco-friendly, making their footprint as small as possible, as well as offering their Eco-Beauty line which is free of parabens, sulfates, GMO's, triclosans, phthalates, dyes, artificial fragrances and a list of other yucky ingredients.

The first product I tried was the Instant Body Smoother.  Wouldn't you?  I had just gotten home from work, opened my box from LA Fresh, and was reading about the products.  This one reduces fatigue and stress as well as soothing tired muscles.  The Body Smoother cools, refreshed and soothes and, among a handful of other natural ingredients, contains peppermint.  Sold!  The body smoother smells wonderful (not too minty, just enough) and made my skin feel great.  Just what I needed after a day of teaching Pilates.  I plan on giving these as Christmas gifts to my fellow fitness instructors as well as the boys teachers.  It's like a mini trip to the spa in a packet!

The Makeup Remover is great.  On Thursdays I teach in two different places, morning and then evening, with a couple hour break in between.  I teach Pilates and then do a treadmill workout in the morning.  I used the makeup remover afterwards and it did the job great!  I sometimes feel that makeup removing products only get half of the makeup off, but this got it all, even my mascara that hangs on for dear life.  The fact that it contains moisturizers and vitamin E is an added bonus.

Next I tried the Antiperspirant Wipe.  I was skeptical at first.  Deodorant in a wipe?
***TMI ALERT*** now you know that I teach many classes each day.  But maybe you didn't know that I just recently completed laser hair removal for my underarms.  I love the results, but I was warned that sometimes this causes body odor while the follicles are doing their thing.  And, it does!  Only one underarm.  Weird, huh?  So, one day between classes I noticed that I was stink-yyy.  I had the wipe with me but it is an Antiperspirant Wipe, not a miracle wipe, so I gave it a try but wasn't expecting a 100% improvement.  I scrubbed, I wiped, I waited.  You know what?  The b.o. was gone!  For the rest of the day gone!  Plus, I taught the rest of my classes, I think 4 that day, went home and was still stink and sweat free.  These wipes are going to be a staple in my gym bag and purse.  Let's be honest, we all have those days where we forget to put on deodorant or when ours just isn't cutting it.  These are little lifesavers and my favorite product by far!

The Oil-Free Face Cleanser and Feminine Hygiene wipes are also going in the gym bag.  Great for a quick wipe down on days when I have to go from being the high-energy cycle teacher (ie sweating my booty off) to the fitness studio manager at a meeting or interviewing a potential instructor.

Nail polish remover in a wipe?  Yes, please!  I love painting my nails, and having my toes painted is sort of a job requirement since I spend so much time barefoot.  But I hate taking the polish off.  It's just one of those things.  Polish remover, cotton ball, scrubbing it off...seems like such a time-waster.  But the LA Fresh Nail Polish Remover wipe made it quick and worked very well.  Acetone-free, paraben-free, moisturizing and strengthening! Plus the Tuscan Orange smell was amazing.

If you haven't already stopped reading this blog to go and shop, make sure you check out the LA Fresh website.  Their product line seems never-ending and includes shoeshine wipes, antibacterial hand wipes, even body lotion!  Oh, and a new line just for pets!

I really can't say enough good things about LA Fresh.  I love any product that comes in wipe form.  Feels like such a time-saver.  And all of these wipes have a wonderfully soft feel and do not leave any trace of sticky residue. My skin felt great after each use. The resealable pouch would be great for home and the portable sachets are great in my bag.  Plus, think of the possibilities for travel!  When I fly for my Pilates trainings I like to just do a carry-on, which means very limited amounts of beauty products.  With LA Fresh I will be able to pack antiperspirant, face cleansers, even muscle soothers without having to worry about the size of a bottle.  Priceless!  And speaking of price, these products are totally affordable.

Go check out their website.  Let me know what product(s) you are going to try.  And when you order, make sure they know you came from Forward From The Heart ;)

*LA Fresh was generous and sent me several products to review, however, I was not compensated in any way and my views on this product are mine, all mine :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Finding a Psychologist - Part One

About a month before I started seeing my current therapist I had a really bad experience with a psychologist.  He.  Was.  Horrible.  In a sense, I know that I am lucky that doctor number one was horrible and doctor number two was amazing.  But I have to share about the first doctor.  Looking back, it's laughable.  At the time it was infuriating.  My first visit he double scheduled appointments.  It was me in the waiting room along with a mom and her young son.  The psychologist came out, looked at both of us, and then said he had scheduled us both at the same time.  The mom looked exhausted, said she couldn't come back later.  I know that feeling. I didn't want to make her evening hard.  I appeared calm, but on the inside was an absolute wreck.  Dealing with panic and anxiety on a daily basis, and on this particular day.  So, it was a huge step to just get to the office.  And then I get there and the doctor had made a mistake.  And I didn't want to upset this exhausted looking mom and steal a child's therapy appointment.  So I said I could wait.  The doctor pulled me aside and was like:  "Your not, umm...suicidal or anything...right?"
Seriously?!  This is the first time I have met you.  YOU scheduled me wrong.  I am here for help.  From you.  Have you even read my chart?  What if I AM here for suicidal thoughts?  Why would I tell you that now?  I would just say no and go jump off a bridge.  Oh, and thanks for planting that suicidal thought in my head, because, you know, I am here to see a doctor that helps people emotionally.  Ugh.  I hated him instantly.  But I knew that I needed help.  At the time I didn't know that I had anxiety, but I knew something was wrong and I couldn't fix it on my own.
So, I left.  Went home.  Wanted to curl up in a ball and never go out again.  But an hour later, I headed back to his office.  It was cluttered.  He was bumbling, distracted, disheveled.  But I went in with a positive attitude.  Maybe this would be a "Good Will Hunting"  type experience.  This guy looked the part of Robin Williams, and while I am not a genius, at the time I could definitely have cursed and chain-smoked my way through a couple sessions.
"Good Will Hunting"  this was not.  I explained how I had been feeling.  Anxious.  Panicked.  Not wanting to work, not wanting to be at home, scared to drive, overwhelmed with everything around me. Feelings of not being real.  His solution?  Get a housekeeper.  Get a babysitter and go on an overnight date with my husband once a month.  His exact words:  "If cleaning your house stresses you out, hire someone to do it.  I personally like cleaning my home and the satisfied feeling I get from it, but, if you don't, have someone do it for you."
Are you kidding me?  First, he tells me that I basically am lazy and don't enjoy the fulfillment of cleaning.  Then he tells me, a working mother of 2 children, to hire a maid AND take monthly weekend vacations.  Gee, why didn't I think of that?  Oh, yeah, it's because a splurge for me is Starbucks and a new top from Target.  But I don't want to paint the wrong picture here.  This guy did not give off the affluent-doc type vibe.  Like I said, very Robin Williams from "Good Will Hunting" -ish.  So, here's a guy in a sweater and corduroys with bed head telling me to just hire away all of my problems.  Thanks, Hobo Harold, but that ain't fixing anything.
But, being the optimist that I am, and wanting to really fix my problems, I went back the next week.  I don't really remember much about that session, except that he was putting away a Scrabble board from the previous session and said "I let the kid win every week, it's good for his confidence."  Oh, man, more money well spent there.  He also had me look up and read the definition of "worry" and told me that I just needed to change my speech.  Instead of saying "I am worried that a tornado is going to kill me." just say "I am concerned that a tornado is going to kill me."  Yep.  I was completely fixed after that.   NOT.
So, that was that.  I stopped going.  My co-pay is $25, so I figured that money could be saved up for Merry Maids or whatever.  He called me to see why I didn't show up.  Left a message saying that he hoped that everything was okay and that I should continue.  Blah, blah, blah.

My problems did not go away.  Weeks later I need a new psychologist.  I had my diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and panic attacks.  I was told to find someone that specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Finding that doctor will be part 2.

I really do like the story of bad therapist.  I can go back now and point out everything he did wrong, what he should have done differently.  In that sense, I really have become my own therapist.  So, the point in all of this?  Keep looking.  Keep trying.  If you know you need help, don't let one (or five) bad doctors keep you  from finding the right one for you.

Have you had a bad experience with a doctor?  Tell me about it below or email me.  I'd love to learn more.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Workout Wednesday V2

Name:  Josh Roberts
Age:  25
Occupation:  Josh is a certified personal trainer and martial arts instructor.  He also works with with mentally handicapped children, helping them get ready for their school day.  
Family Stuff:  Josh is married with one young daughter.
Teaching Tai Chi
Fun Fact:  Josh also works in the garden, growing vegetables and fruits and working at a local farmer's market.

1)  How many days per week do you work out, just for yourself?
I run to work most mornings, about 3/4 mile.  3-4 days a week I do body work, meaning weights and/or body weight conditioning exercises.  I practice martial arts 6-7 days a week.

2)  Do you keep your workout schedule the same each week or do you mix it up based on your busy schedule?
I mix it up each week just to fit it in.  Many of my workouts happen when I have a client cancel.

3)  As a personal trainer AND a Tai Chi instructor, do you have a preference when it comes to teaching?
For me it has more to do with the people I am teaching, helping them reach their goals, rather than what I am teaching them.  

4)  Do you lift weights on a weekly basis?
I do more body weight exercises.  I only use conventional weights maybe once a week. 
     *body weight exercises: push-ups, lunges, squats, etc.

5)  Do you find it difficult to squeeze in your own workouts while juggling work and family?
Yes it is very hard sometimes.   In the past I have not been very good at getting my workouts in because I put my family first. I finally have a schedule written out that, so far, has helped me keep track of all my practices and allows me to spend time with my family. I most always spend time with my family when I can and have workouts during nap time or after [my daughters] bedtime or early in the morning before my wife and daughter wake up.   I spend enough time being gone for work so I don't want to miss out on family time for my own workouts. 

6)  What is your favorite part of Tai Chi?
My favorite part of Tai Chi is  the internal exploration, closely followed by combat applications.

7)  What is your favorite part of personal training?
Working one-on-one with students and being able to support them in reaching their goals.  This is closely followed by the improvisation that comes with personal training---the tools being used, a new health issue to work around, or working inside or out.

Josh's Workout:

Warm up with a fast-pace run, lasting about 5 minutes.
30 seconds of each abdominal exercise with 30 jump ropes in between:

  • crunches
  •  V twists
  • bicycles
  • reverse crunches
60 seconds rest
  • 20 squats with knee crossover (see pictures below)
  • 20 burpees
  • 20 jump lunges
  • 10 push-ups with 5 second holds at the bottom and top of the lift
  • Plank with 30 second hold
Cool down with a 5 minute walk or jog.

5 second hold (love it!)

5 second hold
Thank you to Josh for sharing today.  I can definitely relate to being so busy that's it's hard to squeeze in a work out, can't you?  I love that his workout is fast and efficient!  To learn more about Tai Chi click here.

Burpees seem to keep coming up in my posts.  I better do a tutorial soon!  What do you think?