Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Cat is Fat: Looking for Lessons Learned by Teaching a Cat to Live Healthy

Last Friday we had one of our cats - Jack - at the Vet.  He had been vomiting several times a day for most of the week.  Jack has gotten sick to his stomach quite often during his short 6 years, but never this frequently.  After running several tests the Vet diagnosed Jack with allergies - most likely to his food.

But the Vet had more news for us.  Jack's stomach problems were not only related to what he was eating, but also to how much and how often he was eating.  Bottom line - Jack is too fat and his excessive weight is impacting his health. 

Seriously?!?  I've been trying for years to get my family focused on eating healthier and increasing our physical activity.  Now I have to do the same for our cats?! 

Our Cat
This was not going to be easy.  How do you explain to a cat that his food bowl is no longer left out because he can't eat all the time?  How is a cat supposed to understand that no matter how long he stands on your chest and "meows," he can't have some treats? 

However, I quickly saw a potential benefit to this tricky situation.

Ellie is at that age where no matter what I do or say, I am ruining her life.  This is especially the case when it comes to food and physical activity.  When I give my daughter a new healthy food to try, she responds as if I am trying to poison her.  When I cut back on my her portions or refuse to give her a snack, she acts as if I am attempting to kill her via starvation.  When I head out the door to exercise, she whines that I never spend any time with her.  When I encourage her to get up and get moving, she screams that I am torturing her.  

What is one thing that Ellie holds near and dear to her heart?  JACK!  Who does Ellie worry about and take care of when he is sick?  JACK!

So my hope is that by involving Ellie in the process of making changes to Jack's food, eating style and amount of physical activity, she will make the connection between making smart food choices and being physically active and being healthy.  Making this transition is not going to be easy for Jack.  He is going to meow and bug us like crazy until he gets used to his new routine.  But, the Vet has promised us that he will eventually adapt to his new food and eating style.  The hope is that when we go back to the Vet in three months, Jack will be down a few pounds, vomiting less and his fur will look shinier.  My hope is that Ellie will see that while it was hard at the beginning, Jack has adapted to the changes and his health has benefited from them.

Ellie can't seem to grasp the idea of making wise choices and living a healthy lifestyle from me - hopefully she can learn it from our cat!

(That all depends on if we can survive this constant meowing!!  Ay-yi-yi!  He won't stop the meowing!!)


Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Simple Closet Cleaning Tip!

This weekend I switched out my Spring/Summer clothes for my Fall/Winter clothes.  During this ritual, I always asking myself two questions:
1) Are my pants still going to fit?
2) What am I donating to Goodwill?
The first question is actually more of a plea - Please let them fit!  Please let them fit!
The second question always causes some great internal debates - I know I haven't worn that top at all, but I just kept forgetting about it.  Next year I'll make sure it is front and center.  No, you really don't like it that's why you never wear it.  But, it was such a great deal.  How can I not wear it?  That skirt is a little tight.  I'm sure I'll have lost some more weight by next year.  That shirt is really comfortable, but I don't think it's really the style anymore. Keep it - styles always circle around.  Nope - it's gotta go! 
I have many of the same debates with my kids when we go through their closets.  They have clothes that I like that they never wear that I hope they will wear some day.  Clothes that have been worn well that I think are ready for the rag bag that they don't want to part with.  Clothes that I look at and think, "Did I really buy that?"  Sorting through their closets is an activity that rarely ends well.  (As I'm typing my daughter just came up to me and asked in a sarcastic pre-teen tone - Is this outfit OK with the Fashion Police?  Ha! Ha!  If it is still in your closet, yes it passes!) 
This week one of my co-workers shared an idea with me that should make this project a whole lot easier when it comes time to sort through our closets again:
We hung all of the hangers in our closet backwards!
As we wear clothes we will hang them back up in our closest with the hanger facing the normal direction.  When it comes time to sort through out clothes again, any clothes on hangers still hanging backwards are an automatic "You're outta here!"  What a simple idea that should save time and arguments.
We'll see how things go in the Spring!  For now, I'm enjoying my sweaters.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy ME Day!

Today I took a day off from work.  It wasn't a holiday.  My kids didn't have the day off.  My husband didn't have a doctor's appointment.  I took the day off just because I wanted to. 

It used to be that every few months I would get so worn down, stressed out and worked up that I would have to take a day off of work and crash.  I'd spend the entire day in bed buried under the covers blocking out the world.  By the end of the day I was slightly more rested, but really no more refreshed.  I called those my "Mental Health Days."

This past April I took the day off of work for my birthday and filled the day doing things that I enjoy doing.  I told myself that because it was my birthday, I would not feel guilty about focusing on doing what I wanted to do and not on what I thought would make everyone else happy.  I had a FABULOUS day!  It was relaxing and fun and energizing

It was so wonderful that I did the same thing the day after completing the Half-Marathon in May.  While on our family vacation in August, I made it a point to have a couple of "Me Mornings."  As soon as we returned from vacation, I looked at my calendar and scheduled my next "Me Day" -  TODAY!

I've discovered three keys to making my Me Days a success:

1) I don't spend the entire day in bed.  Looking back I realized that spending the entire day in bed actually made me feel worse.  My entire body would ache.  I'd physically feel more tired.  I have to confess that one of my favorite things to do is lay in bed and watch TV.  So I always spend part of my Me Days laying in bed - just not the whole day.

2) I do things that I enjoy doing, not things that I HAVE to do.  There are very few things in life that can't be put on hold for a day.  I always plan my day out ahead of time picking 2-3 activities that I want to do.  If I don't plan ahead, time always gets away from me and I end up doing nothing!  For example, today I watched my favorite TV show while drinking a steaming cup of coffee, crawled back into bed for a nap, got my hair cut (which I don't do often and really enjoy!) and then surprised my kids by heading to TCBY after school.  As I type, my kids and I are enjoying our annual viewing of Disney's Halloweentown; which to us officially kicks off the holiday season!  I'm feeling no need to get up and throw in a load of laundry - it is "Me Day!"  Finally, I've planned one of my favorite meals for dinner and then will be heading to my Zumba class.  The perfect ending to my day! 
Family Fun at TCBY!
3) I consciously block out all guilt.  I am the Queen of Guilt!  I took that title over from my mom years ago.  No matter what I'm doing I always have this twinge of guilt that I'm not doing something else with or for someone else.  When I stay at work late I feel guilty that I'm not heading home to be with my family.  When I leave work on time I feel guilty that I didn't finish one more thing.  When I go out to exercise I feel guilty that I'm not hanging out with my kids,  When I skip exercise to hang out with my kids I feel guilty that I'm not meeting up with my friends at class.  I could go on and on.  I'm sure that most moms can relate to this on some level.  On my "Me Days" I give myself permission to do want I want to do.  I tell myself  - literally talk out loud to myself - that I am pushing guilt to the side and focusing on myself for the entire day. 

Following these three guidelines have turned my "Me Days" into a time of refreshment.  I enjoy the time off rather than wasting it because I'm so mentally worn down and physically tired that I can't function.  I'll return to the real world tomorrow rested and ready to face my life. 

One of the first things that I'll do when I return to my life is fill out a PTO (Paid Time Off) form for my next "Me Day!"  Why don't you get out your calendar and schedule a "Me Day" just for you! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Top Ten

A fun idea I stole from photographer Carrie Farmerie's website ( 

Lisa's Top Ten
  • I have ONE intelligent, funny, very tall son.
  • I have TWO beautiful daughters - actually only one, but she is with her BFF so much I often feel like I have two!
  • THREE things I really enjoy - Coffee, watching Castle early on Saturday mornings (l-o-v-e actor Nathan Fillion!) and walking in the woods.
  • FOUR-O!  I turned forty this year and celebrated by completing the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon.
  • I run at least one FIVE-K a month to keep myself motivated to exercise on a regular basis.
  • SIX + 10 = 16  That's how many years my husband and I have been married.
  • I can honestly say that I would have no problem eating pizza for dinner SEVEN nights a week!
  • My son is in EIGHTh grade and my daughter is in sixth.  How is that possible?
  • I am on Cloud NINE that the Pittsburgh Pirates not only had a winning season in 2013, but are in the play-offs after 20 consecutive losing seasons!
  • I fall asleep TEN seconds after my head hits the pillow, but am often awake at 4AM thinking about the day ahead.
Your turn!  What is your Top Ten?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thoughts from a Fan of Pittsburgh Pirates' Manager Clint Hurdle

I have been glued to the TV these past few weeks watching the Pittsburgh Pirates' over-the-top exciting season.  Like most Pittsburghers, I have been waiting for this season for over 20 years.  So many great players with great stories make up this Team.  However, the person that I've enjoyed watching most hasn't been running around the bases.  It's the man leaning against the railing of the dugout chewing a large wad of pink gum - manager Clint Hurdle.  Since arriving in Pittsburgh as the Pirates' Manager three years ago, I have had a great affection for Hurdle.  From what I observed on TV and read about him is a classic good guy.  The kind of person ready to cheer you on when you're having a great day and pick you up when your day is not that great.

Clint Hurdle.jpg
Pittsburgh Pirates' Manager Clint Hurdle

Last week my husband shared an article with me -  - which clinched Clint Hurdle's spot in my heart as a man to learn from (after my dad who will always hold the top spot - of course!).  There are many qualities in Clint Hurdle that admire - both professionally and personally, but two really stick out.

1) Positive Attitude.  Clint Hurdle is the ultimate example of the power of positivity.  One of my favorite parts of the ESPN article was how after being fired from the Rockies, the staff continued to reach out to Hurdle for inspiration.  They missed his positive attitude and uplifting sayings being part of their daily lives.  I strive to be the kind of person who is missed because of the positivity I bring to a situation, not because people are happy I'm not there because of my complaining or grouchiness.  It is so easy in life to let the negative rule our attitudes or emotions.  Personally, Hurdle has had many hurdles in his life that he has overcome.  Professionally, he accepted the job of managing the Pirates who up until this season had 20 consecutive losing seasons, the longest losing streak in North American professional sports history - conquering that negative situation on a daily basis had to be hard.  Over the years Hurdle has learned to face negative situations, learn from them and then move on putting the life lessons he learns into action with a very positive twist.  The best part - he has found great happiness and contentment in life.  I want to be like that!
2) Have fun.  One of my favorite moments from this post-season adventure was after the Pirates' Wildcard victory over the Cincinnati Reds.  The players waited for everyone to get into the locker room.  Then they circled around Hurdle and sprayed him with champagne while Hurdle did his own little victory dance. (Another example of talking the talk and walking the walk - Hurdle celebrated with apple cider to maintain his over 15 years of sobriety.)  This morning I watched Hurdle's press conference about today's game at PNC Park.  He was talking about Pirate fans approaching today's game like the pirates we see in movies . . . how much fun is that!  (YES, I saved an eye patch from our International Talk Like A Pirate Day celebration and YES, I will be wearing it at the game this afternoon!)  Here is a man working hard in a high pressure situation; yet, he is enjoying the moment and having fun.  I want to be like that!

Through the high and low moments of his life and career, Hurdle sends a daily e-mail to a growing list of people (currently over 1,000!) sharing a positive inspirational quote or thought.  He ends his e-mails with, "Make a difference today.  Love, Clint"  From watching his actions and hearing his words both on and off the field, Hurdle has definitely made a difference in me!

This is one day that this mom won't be out running.  Today you'll find me at PNC Park cheering on Clint Hurdle's Team.  LET'S GO BUCS!