Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It's not too Late to Check Things Off Your Summer Bucket List


My kids recently returned from a week long Missions Trip to Puerto Rico with our church's Youth Group.  It was so exciting to hear their stories and look at the pictures they took!  They had an absolutely amazing time.

As I was taking care of the not so fun part of their trip - the smelly sweaty laundry! - my mind began to wander to one of the next big events of our lives . . . prepping for back to school.  School supply displays are up at Target so we should head their sooner rather than later.  My daughter "donated" her tennis shoes in Puerto Rico so she'll need a new pair.  My son needs a form completed by his doctor.

WAIT A MINUTE!  

It is the middle of July.  We still have half of the kids summer vacation!  Why am I allowing my mind to be consumed with the stress of back to school already?  Don't get me wrong - it's important to plan ahead and be prepared.  My daughter and I will be making a school supply run this weekend (few things top the anxiety of needing a 1" red binder with a clear plastic cover sleeve that the teacher is requiring you to have tomorrow or you lose 100 points and there is not a single one left in 20 mile radius!).

I grabbed my planner and opened up to the page where I had written my Summer Bucket List back in May.  I've already checked several activities off.  But there are several more items on the list!
Hiking at Beam Rocks in Forbes State Forest - CHECK!
Fortunately, I caught myself before I allowed the stress and anxiety that always seems to attack me during the transition from one season to the next consume me.  There is still a lot of summer left to experience in 2017!  So I paused and took a close look at that list.  Picking a few items off it I purposely put them on my calendar so that they would not be missed.  I'll get to Pittsburgh's Wiener World!  I'll get to Hidden Valley for a weekend!

Trust me - I'll be ready for the start of school, but I won't miss out on the fun of summer!  How about you?  What's something you want to fit in before the leaves start to change colors?

A few more items already crossed off my Summer Bucket List . . .
Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Arts Festival - CHECK!

Yoga in Pittsburgh's Market Square with my Mom - CHECK

My daughter and her BFFs at Phipp's Conservatory
in Pittsburgh, PA - CHECK



Sunday, June 25, 2017

JJ's New Workout Game: Three Foul Shots or RUN!

Once again my teenage son had spent a large amount of his day sitting in front of the TV playing video games.  I told him that after dinner he and I were going to workout - no complaining, no excuses, no arguments - we were heading outside and we were going to sweat!

Much to my delight - and a little to my surprise - after we finished the dinner dishes my son said to me, "I'm ready Mom.  And tonight, I've planned the workout."  WHAT?!?!

Grabbing his basketball, we headed down to the bottom of our driveway (We have a single lane driveway that goes down a hill to our garage behind the house.  Our vehicles are parked at the top of the driveway one in front of the other.) .  JJ explained to me how he had adapted a basketball drill his 7th grade coach used during practice.  Here's what we did:


We took turns standing at the Free Throw Line.  Each of us got up to three shots per turn.

If you missed the first one, we both had to run to the top of our driveway touching the street with our foot and back to the very bottom.

If you made the first one, but missed the second one, we had to run up to touch our jeep (parked in the driveway closest to the street) with our hand and back to the very bottom.

If you made the first two, but missed the third one, we had to run up to touch our van (parked in front of the jeep) with our hand and back to the very bottom.

If you made all three, it was the other person's turn.

We did three rounds of eight total turns per round with a two minute break in between each round.

It doesn't sound like much as I type it out, but we were both dripping with sweat and out of breath by the time we finished.  Several things made me fall in love with this workout - 1) The fact that my son took the initiative to think plan the workout and suggest that we do it is obviously #1!  2) The element of surprise.  You never know which shot is going to go in!  It is very difficult to make the shot when you are out of breath.  3) Sprinting up the driveway over and over was a GREAT workout!  Plus, the more people who play the more running you do.

This game can be adapted to multiple sports - shooting a hockey puck in a net, kicking a soccer ball into a goal, throwing a football through a hoop.  You can also adapt the running to whatever space you have.  In the case of JJ's basketball practice, they had to run different lengths across the gym floor.  You could even do different exercises - If you miss the first you do 25 jumping jacks, miss the second you do 15 sit-ups, miss the third you do 10 push-ups.  The key is that your child likes the sport so that they engage in the game.  

Have fun trying out JJ's new game!  I know we'll be playing it again!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Beach Chair Transformation


This is my favorite beach chair.  I've had it for nearly 20 years.  Every time I go to the beach I sit in it for hours reading my book, watching the waves and digging my toes in the sand.

There was always one thing that I didn't like about my favorite chair - I could hardly get out of it!  It was the most ungraceful action that I'm sure was ugly to watch.  Often my husband or children would have to give me a hand to help pull me up out it.  I would hear myself making a horrible grunting noise without even realizing I was doing it as I struggled to get myself out of the chair.

Shortly after returning home from our beach vacation last summer, I was working out with my group of friends from work.  Our trainer Dana had us doing Chair Dips - one of my least favorite exercises.
Chair Dips
www.lifefitnessbydane.com
However, I quickly realized that the motion of the Chair Dip was the same motion required to get myself out of my beach chair!  So instead of complaining, I started repeating to myself "get out of the beach chair" with every dip.  By that time my husband and I had begun to plan our trip to the beach for our Anniversary.  I knew that I had about 11 months to work on being able to get out of my chair with a little more of a sexy flare rather than like a woman who is ten months pregnant.

Week after week, every time chair dips appeared on our workout I would repeat over and over - Get out of the beach chair.  Get out of the beach chair.  The move never got any easier.  My arms would burn and I never developed a love of Chair Dips.

Last week my husband and I spent the week in Nags Head, NC to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. Our first  morning at the beach, I awoke at the crack of dawn, grabbing my chair and my book and heading down to the beach.  Several chapters later I decided to go back to our condo to see if my husband was awake.  Without giving it a second thought, I sprung out of my chair.  You read that right - I SPRUNG out of my chair.  I couldn't believe it!  

Later that morning I returned to the beach with my husband.  I couldn't wait to show him!  I sat down in my chair and immediately sprung back up with ease and grace (and maybe a little sexy flare!) throwing my arms in the air and exclaiming "ta-da!"  He could see the difference.  I was so excited!  In fact, every time that I got out of the chair for the remainder of the week instead of letting out a moan, I would look at my husband and say "ta-da!"  It never got old.

There are many times in life when we work hard at something and don't always see a result.  The scale doesn't move.  Our pants don't fit any differently.  It feels as if no one at work is noticing the time and effort you are putting in.  Then all of a sudden - TA-DA!  Something happens and you realize that your work has paid off.  It's a lesson in never giving up!

TA-DA!

I have to give a SHOUT OUT to my friend Dana for making me do all of those Chair Dips and to Team Muscle who continue to encourage and motivate me every single week!
Team Muscle led by Dana (green shirt)



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Discovering Motivation in the Moment

Boyce Park

Saturday morning was a warm sunny day in Pittsburgh.  The weeks before had been chilly and rainy.  That motivated me to get out for a run to enjoy the weather.

A group of friends and I are registered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in a couple of weeks.  My leg of the race is 4.2 miles - a mile farther than I normally run.  The need to train so I don't let down my friends motivated me to get out for a run.

Over these past few weeks I have watched several of the senior citizens that I help care for at work continue to physically decline.  I constantly hear our Physical Therapist talk about how they stopped coming to exercise and the impact that that sedentary lifestyle has had on their health.  My fear of becoming like them motivated me to get out for a run.

I parked my car and began to run along the hilly road that winds through Boyce Park.  A little over a mile into my run, my legs started to ache and I felt tired.  I was ready to turn around and head back to my car.  All of the reasons why I was out for a run came to mind.  They were very valid reasons to continue, but I wasn't feeling it today.  Forget the three miles, I was just going to do two.  My motivation was gone.

It was then that I rounded a bend and saw them.  An elderly man and woman.  Bundled up in winter coats with hats and gloves.  He with a cane and her bent over a walker.  Moving at a slow pace.  Each step purposeful.  Each step obviously coming with pain and difficulty.  Wow - if they could be out pushing themselves to keep moving, how in the world could I let myself stop short of the goal that I had set for myself?  If they could do it, so could I.

I picked up my pace and caught up with them.  They were just adorable.  Talking to each other while continuing to move forward step by step.

I couldn't help myself.  I had to say something.

"What an inspiration you are to me," I said as I ran past.  "Keep going!  You're doing great!"

They looked at me and smiled.

I suddenly had a surge of energy and pushed myself to run through my walking intervals until I came to a hill and started to walk.  I could sense a car coming up behind me and then realized that it was slowing down.  It was the elderly couple.  The driver's side window was down.

"We finished our lap.  Time to finish yours!  Keep going," the gentleman said to me as his wife waved at me from the passenger side.

My motivation had returned.  I smiled and waved as the car disappeared over the hill.

I spent the next mile thinking about the absolutely adorable couple.  I could tell that they both were in pain as they walked along the road.  Yet, they hadn't stayed home.  They didn't quit because it was too hard or because they were tired.  They kept going and kept pushing themselves to take one step at a time.  Which is exactly what I did as I wrapped up a three mile run that had almost become two.

I have several big picture motivators, goals and fears that keep me moving day after day.  But sometimes the big picture isn't good enough.  It's easy to tell myself that I will focus on that tomorrow while choosing to do something else.  Running into that couple reminded me to look around me for a smaller dose of motivation to keep myself moving.  The beauty of the environment.  A favorite song with a great memory attached to it that is on my playlist that pushes me to run.  A friend who is expecting me.  A couple who inspires me to keep moving because they are moving.  I am surrounded by motivating people and situations just waiting to be discovered and push me towards success!
Making my way up the hill at Boyce Park.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

It Turns Out We were All Afraid of the Spin Bike

 
The Spin Classroom at my YMCA

While I like to try new things, I am far from the most daring person you will ever meet.  Rarely will I try anything for the first time by myself.  I ran my first 5k with my brother-in-law.  My best friend Amy and I went to our first Zumba class together.  Zip-lining was tackled with my sister's firm promise that she would be flinging herself down the mountain right behind me. 

One thing that I have been wanting to try for years is a Spin Class.  I would walk past the Spin Classroom at the YMCA and hear the pounding music and see the class full of people with wet hair and sweat pouring off their faces and my heart would start to pound.  There are a few Spin Bikes in the gym scattered among the treadmills and elliptical machines, but I would just give them a fearful glance as I finished a run. 

How could something as simple as a bike be so scary?  The seat is small.  No way my big bottom will fit on that little seat.  There are straps on the pedals.  What if I can't get them off and then I am stuck there - how embarrassing!  Various knobs are all over the place and what in the world are all of those numbers on that little screen?  Plus, I always see people peddling and standing.  How in the world am I going to stand and pedal?  I'll last like ten seconds.  No way.

One evening I ran into my co-worker Elaine at the Y.  She told me that she had just come out of a Spin Class and asked if I had ever tried one.  When I told her no, she invited me to join her sometime.  I shared with her that I had always wanted to try a Spin Class and that I would love to join her some evening. 

I managed to avoid actually going to Spin Class for about a year.  There was always a valid reason why I could not meet her for a class.

Then, Elaine called my bluff. 

I was sharing with my co-workers at our Morning Meeting about March Fourth.  Encouraging them to set a goal, try something new, do something for their health.  Elaine piped up - "This year Lisa is marching forth by trying a Spin Class with me on Wednesday."  WHAT?!?!  Everyone was looking at me.  How could I say no when I was encouraging them to take action?  "I'll see you on Wednesday, Elaine!" came out of my mouth.

Wednesday night I met Elaine at the Y at 6PM - fifteen minutes before class started (It is important to arrive early because bikes fill-up quick and once they are filled you are out of luck!).  I was literally shaking.  Elaine introduced me to the instructor who got me set up on the bike.  She moved the seat up and down and backwards and forward until she felt it was just right.  Then she adjusted the handle bars.  GULP - Next she strapped my feet into the peddles and had me start peddling.  My heart was pounding and I suddenly got really hot.  She instructed me on what the numbers on the screen meant.  Finally, she reviewed the Spinning lingo that I would need to understand in order to follow along - seated climb, standing flat, resistance, jumps  (Check out http://blog.mioglobal.com/spinning-glossary/ for a description of Spinning lingo.).  At that point, she deemed me ready to roll and walked away leaving me strapped to the bike gripping the handlebars for dear life and trying my best to maintain my balance.

Next thing I knew the lights went out and the music turned up.  For 45 minutes I sat.  I stood.  I pedaled fast.  I cranked up the resistance and slowly pushed those pedals forward.  Sweat was pouring down my face.  And then . . . it was over. 

Elaine and I after my first Spin Class
I LOVED it!  The 45 minutes flew by.  I pedaled while sitting and standing, going up hills and rolling along the flats.  I had no problem keeping up with the instructor.  Best of all - I never fell off the bike!  It was fantastic!  My mind was blown.  My fear was conquered.  I survived my first Spin Class.  Wow!  I was so thankful that Elaine had invited me and then pushed me to follow through with my yes.

The next day I felt great.  My legs and bottom were a little sore - just enough to remind myself that I had worked hard the night before rising victorious over my fear.  I told a few of my friends about how much I enjoyed the Spin Class and what a fantastic workout it was.  Several of their responses shocked me.  It turns out that I wasn't the only one afraid of the Spin Bike!  They told me that they had always wanted to try a Spin Class, but didn't want to go by themselves or were too nervous.  Really???  I honestly thought that I was the only one who had a fear of the bike.

So I invited them to join me in class with Elaine the following Wednesday, and two of my friends showed up!  By the end of class Spinning had two more admirers - both Nicole and Amy conquered their fear of the bike.

Nicole and Amy joining in on the fun!
Lessons learned:
* Never be afraid to voice fear about something because you're most likely not the only one.
* Conquering a fear is much easier and more fun with friends.
* Spinning is fun!


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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Re-Visiting my Snack Attack Prevention Plan

My stress levels are rising.  Home life and work life are busier than ever.  My stress eating habit is wanting to rear it's ugly head!  Before things get out of hand, I thought it would be helpful for me to re-visit the Snack Attack Prevention Plan I set up for myself:

I admit it . . . I'm a stress eater.  When my stress levels go up, my willpower goes down.  The past month at work has been high stress.  It took me a few weeks to recognize it, but my willpower was plummeting.  The new habits that I had developed over the past several years seemed to just disappear.  Looking at my desk one day, I counted four food wrappers.  FOUR!  Wow!  That was the moment that I realized I needed to get my act together.  I was in a fierce battle with the Snack Attack Monster and I needed a plan. 
   
Re-Commit to Living Healthy
On my drive home that night, I turned the radio off and spent some time thinking.  I needed to admit to myself that I was slipping into some old habits.  I love snacking.  I love pretzels and chips and gummy candies.  So when someone leaves a box filled with small bags of Doritos in our Employee Lounge, of course I am going to grab one.   When I step into my co-workers office and she offers me a handful of gummy worms, of course I'm going to say yes.  When I'm sitting at my desk at the end of the day and my stomach is gurgling, of course I'm going to go the vending machine.  Really?  No!  I'm going to walk past the breakroom, graciously decline the offer and come to work prepared with healthy snacks.  Why?  Because I want to feel good, have energy, live long and not put back on the weight I've lost.  

That evening I got out two index cards and wrote down the scripture and quote that started me on my journey of healthy living:
Let us not grow weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9  
 
No one can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
Maria Robinson
The next day I posted them by my computer as a visual reminder of my commitment to live healthy.
   
Re-Charge Breakfast
The time between when my alarm goes off and when I need to be pulling out of the driveway always goes so fast!  I found that I was often grabbing a granola bar or the dreaded Pop Tart as I ran out the door to satisfy my morning hunger.  Neither are very filling.  So by 9AM my stomach is rumbling and I'm wanting something to eat. 

I had always wanted to try making smoothies for breakfast.  My hesitation came from seeing recipes that call for protein powder and not knowing exactly what that involves.  Talking with my friend Dana - a dietitian - eased my fear of the unknown.  She said that for my purposes there were plenty of ways to naturally add protein to the smoothies through bananas, yogurt, peanut butter and even pureed pumpkin!  (Note from my friend Dana after reading this blog entry - "Neither bananas nor pumpkin are high in protein but they def add bulk, fiber and other nutrients that will keep you satisfied until you need a mid-morning snack."  I want to make sure I'm sharing correct information.)

Well-educated and very enthusiastic, I dug our blender out of the basement, bought a variety of ingredients and been have been whipping up healthy, tasty and filling breakfast smoothies all week,  YUMMY!  I have to admit that I have been surprised that they truly are filling.  My stomach did not rumble in the morning all week! 

The only possible downside to the smoothies is that they do take a little longer to prepare than simply grabbing a granola bar.  However, I'm a great multi-tasker (I did almost put the chopped garlic in the blender instead of the crockpot yesterday, but I caught myself just in time!) and my husband hasn't minded cleaning up my mess - especially since I've been leaving him his very own smoothie!

Re-New My Relationship with Water
Over the past couple of weeks I realized that I have gotten away from drinking water at work.  The cup that I had always carried around the Center with me sat dry and empty on the corner of my desk.  This week I made a conscious effort to fill it up every morning on my way to our daily meeting and then carry it with me throughout the day.  One of my favorite features of the Adult Day Center where I work is the door ice and water dispensers on the fridge.  I do like ice cold water - it fills me up and wakes me up!

My battle plan is in place.  It was that simple.  I'm RE-COMMITTED, RE-CHARGED and RE-NEWED!  Workday Snack Attacks don't stand a chance against this girl. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Marching Forth: Know the Journey will not be Perfect

My plan had been to share a tip everyday this week leading up to March Fourth.  Here we are on Thursday night at 10:40PM and I am tired.  I've been up since 5AM, worked all day and just got home from a meeting.  I want nothing more than to crawl into bed.  But this blog post is looming over my head.  I seriously thought about telling myself to forget it,  No one would miss it.

But then I realized what a perfect topic to share!  We often plan out our lives having everything pictured in our mind of exactly how it will go.  Then when we miss something or mess up or life simply gets in the way we are very quick to throw our hands up and give up.

Those are the times that we need to dig deep and not give up.  We need to keep our focus on the goal and keep going.  So what we missed a couple days of exercise - let's head back to the gym.  So what I went to bed before hitting the 10,000 step mark on my FitBit - I'll try again tomorrow.  So what I mindlessly ate three cookies during our staff meeting - I'll make wiser choices starting right now.

It's important that we forgive ourselves, pick ourselves up and continue Marching Forth towards a healthier life.

Now I'm off to bed!