My Life is Full

I read an anecdote somewhere, ages ago, about someone who ran into an acquaintance at the gym. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, the person started talking about how busy they were and all the things they had to do that day and how crazy it all was.

The acquaintance smiled and said, “it sounds like your life is really full right now – that’s wonderful”. Or some such thing.

Lately, my life has been full, too.

If this story makes you want to indulge in a primal scream, maybe your life is too full and something needs to go. How can you take it a bit easier? What can you drop from your schedule or to-do list? How can you prepare for the weeks ahead so the “full” days feel full and not overwhelming?

I don’t have answers, but I like the idea of chasing the emotional state where a busy day can feel full and not busy.

(Or… maybe half full? I could be a cup half-full person 😉

Thoughts on The New Yorker Article “Improving Ourselves to Death”

I read an article a friend shared today from the New Yorker titled “Improving Ourselves to Death: What the self-help gurus and their critics reveal about our times” by Alexandra Schwartz.

It reminded me a little of the backlash against parenting books. I know parents who are so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of “expert” parenting advice (much of it contradicting other “expert” advice) that they give up on any parenting books whatsoever and rely entirely on their own intuition.

But that’s a lonely road, and it can keep us from discovering ideas and resources that could really help us.

So I resist an all-or-nothing mentality grouping us into either in favor of or against the self-help movement or endless shelves of parenting advice.

Some parenting books have literally changed my life, and so have some self-help books (like the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Eileen

If we take the good advice in this article to avoid feeling pressured by the sum of all the advice and books out there, we can use the books as a menu of ideas rather than a checklist of obligations. Then we’ll have resources for when we really would be happier if we made more efficient To-Do lists and some author has a strategy that might work well for us.

We can scour the shelves for ideas to solve problems we actually have, rather than, a concern posed by the article, using books to convince ourselves we have problems that we really don’t.

We don’t have to choose between our own intuition and the advice on bookshelves. We can use our intuition to help us navigate the information out there and try strategies that resonate with us. Berate the self-help sections all you want, but I love my running drawer when it’s folded using the kon-mari folding method, and when my kids started sleeping through the night because we got the information we needed to break their sleep associations it was game-changing for our entire family.

It’s not all or nothing. There are great ideas out there, and when you want to improve something, there’s no harm in seeing what others have done that’s been successful and deciding for yourself whether you want to try it.

In other cool news – my favorite nutrition expert Dr. Greger was on Live with Kelly and Ryan! Check it out 🙂 

Chewy Lemon Oatmeal Cookies for breakfast

I just made a batch of chewy oatmeal, lemon, walnut and date cookies to eat for breakfast this week!

The recipe is from Forks Over Knives, and it’s made with whole grain oats and no refined sugars. It’s actually healthy, and not incredibly cookie like except for the soft, chewy texture that keeps it from being in the “power bar” category despite its similar ingredients. It’s healthy tasting enough so one of my kids won’t even eat it (I think I lost him when I didn’t add chocolate chips) which means more for me.

I’ve been looking for a fast breakfast that I can enjoy with my coffee.

WITH my coffee is very important.

I love my morning coffee. LOVE. Real, genuine, think-about-it-the-night-before kind of love. It’s one of the best parts of the day.

Hot, strong, black coffee.

Ahhh.

Which means I am not a morning smoothie person.

I want to be a morning smoothie person, but 2018 is the year that I accept that I am just not. I will not be starting off my day with a giant blend of leafy greens and flax seeds and self-satisfaction.

Because drinking a smoothie first thing in the morning ruins my coffee experience.

I can’t have that.

So I’m making peace with the truth, and moving my smoothie ambitions to mid-afternoon, when I could really use a healthy snack to give me an energy boost for school pick-up through dinner.

Instead of thinking I’ll get up in the morning and make myself a smoothie but then cradling my coffee and eating scraps from packing school lunches, I’m going to accept that I don’t want a smoothie in the morning so I’d better make a different plan.

Something I can eat quickly, with limited preparation and dishes. Something that goes with coffee. Something I can make ahead. Something delicious, whole grain, with nuts and dried fruit for energy, and a zest of lemon to make me feel like I’m a grown-up.

Do you have a healthy practice, like smoothies for breakfast, that you’ve tried to embrace but failed? Maybe it’s time to let it go and find a suitable alternative that works for you.

Like cookies.

Vacation Yoga! Tried a Workout Video

Snowy ocean wonderland! It’s beautiful, but it’s not my preferred beach running weather.

I’m up in beautiful, wonderful Maine for our winter break and loving it!

But… there’s no Equinox and running outside in single digit weather on icy roads is neither appealing nor safe.

So I broke out my yoga mat and did a yoga video I found that was included in Amazon prime video.

Is it as motivating as a communal setting where you have peers for accountability and an instructor for corrections and trouble-shooting?

No.

But it was free, on-site, on-demand, and much easier to follow along than I thought it would be.

When I first tried to do a yoga workout video at home several years ago, I didn’t have enough experience to follow along. I assumed a Beginner Vinyasa Yoga video would be fine for someone trying yoga for the first time.

But I didn’t know Downward Facing Dog from Mountain Pose and had to pause the video at literally every change in the sequence and then try to replicate it.

It was an absolute disaster. If you’ve done a flowing vinyasa class, you realize that this means I was pausing the video approximately every five seconds, then getting out of the pose to unpause it. I kept repeating this viciously frustrating pause cycle and wondering why on earth anyone likes doing yoga.

I didn’t make it past the first Sun Salutation. Obviously.

The video description wasn’t at fault; it was a beginner friendly yoga sequence that avoided more challenging poses. But beginner friendly is not the same as an introduction to yoga, which I now understand should come from an actual instructor and not a video in order to receive adequately paced instruction and personalized corrections that will reduce your risk of injury. I highly recommend either a private lesson or a beginner series at a yoga studio if you’ve never taken a yoga class and want to start out. It’ll reduce your frustration and increase your ability to get more out of class sooner.

So… my first yoga video experience was a disaster.

Fast forward a few years, though, and I’ve taken enough yoga classes to follow verbal cues from a yoga video. The audio provided sequences and timing and was much better than me trying to lead myself.

The yoga video I did was comprised of four different shorter sections, so I could even use it to do 15 minutes of yoga on an off-day at home.

It was convenient, and a wonderful alternative to doing nothing on a day when other workout options weren’t going to happen.

If you haven’t given a workout video a try in a long time, it might be worth looking into one in an area of fitness where you’re experienced enough to feel comfortable without instructor supervision. Many streaming services like Amazon and Netflix have them included in your membership, so you can try a couple until you find one you like.

Instructor, background music, length of video, difficulty level etc. all vary, so don’t give up if the first one you try doesn’t mesh with your personal fitness vibe.

I would have preferred to go to a yoga studio for a group practice, but I love the flexibility of having an at-home option, and the thought that I could grow more in my practice by incorporating more regular practice at home to complement my studio workouts.

Hope you’re enjoying your last week of 2017!

Any New Year’s Resolutions on the books?!?

Come to My Workshop at the Wellesley Wellness Retreat!

Hi Boston area readers and friends!

I hope the end of 2017 finds you reflective and excited for a fresh new year.

For a great beginning, I hope you’ll join me in January at the 3rd annual Wellesley Wellness Retreat!

Learn More and Register for the Wellesley Wellness Retreat

Run by three local women, it’s a day of yoga, guidance on building a self-care practice, and informative afternoon workshops on topics like sleep, simplifying family time, sexual health, and the connection between food and mood.

Oh, and fitness!

Brought to you by yours truly in a 35-minute workshop/presentation.

There will even be a delicious, plant-based lunch catered from CocoBeet in Wellesley!

Not local but wish you could join me?

No worries! I’ll have the workbook we’ll be using available for download after the event and as always I’ll be exploring these topics on my blog.

I look forward to sharing what I’ve discovered in my own fitness journey.

Highlights include:

  • Tips for forming a “just right” goal
  • How self-compassion makes us braver and stronger
  • Setting our environment up for success
  • Being true to ourselves and not expecting other people’s fitness goals or strategies to work for us

It’s been a great joy to take my love of curriculum development and channel it into preparing for this 35-minute workshop.

I hope you can join me!