Breakfast Is Included

Just got back from a glorious week-long vacation. One thing I love about vacation is NO DISHES! It is challenging to eat healthfully on the road, though. Especially when you’re a vegetarian. A little easier out west, maybe, but it was still a “thing” every meal. Most days, breakfast was included at the hotel—you know, the buffet line, where everyone pads down pre-makeup, kids in jammies, to fill up their plates with eggs, biscuits, sausage…have to get their money’s worth. Well we did fine with our other meals, but those breakfasts—they just make me sick. I literally made a note in my phone: “Blog about depressing hotel breakfasts.”

So here I am, and just thinking about the breakfasts—and there were several different hotels’ worth—still makes me feel gross. The unhealthy food, the gluttony, the WASTE!! We made do, we always do. My kids chose “treats” they usually don’t get, a bagel for Bella, a bowl of sweet cereal for Davin, and Mike and I always head straight to the oatmeal, often scraping the last bit out from the bottom, adding raisins and some brown sugar, good enough to get us through to the next meal. But ohmygoodness, the plates of the people around me! Piled so high with cheesy eggs, sausage AND bacon, biscuits, MORE butter. I’m doubting their plans for the day included a long hike in the mountains.

You don’t have to eat everything on the buffet to “get your money’s worth.” But say you do. Who wins then?

Energy for the day? More like ingredients for a stomach ache.
Energy for the day? More like recipe for a stomach ache.

How Deep Is Your Love?

You’re a really great person. You do everything you can for your family. You work hard at whatever you do, you are there for your spouse and your kids, you know they know how much you love them.

But if you aren’t taking care of YOU, you’re not doing enough.

I could end this right here by saying: What good are you to your family if you drop dead of a heart attack that you absolutely could have prevented?

If you really, truly love your spouse and your kids, your parents and your friends, you will get up out of that chair and go take a walk. You will quit that smoking nonsense. You will eat more spinach and less fried chicken. You will just say no to soda. If you don’t, you’re just plain selfish. Yes, selfish—because if you don’t take these simple measures seriously, you are basically telling your loved ones that you care just a tiny bit less than 100% about them. You don’t care quite enough to ensure you stick around—without being a burden on them—as long as possible.

It’s February, not too late to get your resolutions in gear, and also the month when we celebrate love. Think hard about the people you love (hopefully you’re including yourself here), and think about all you do for them. You would do anything for them, wouldn’t you? So get the help you need to make yourself a healthier parent, spouse and friend. Show them how deep your love is.

Back to School Time, Back to YOU Time

With the kids back in school, you can finally think a complete thought start to finish again. And maybe one of your thoughts involves getting back into an exercise routine. That’s a good thought, and you should act on it, because as we tell our kids, when we exercise, it makes us better parents.

Search for something new if you need more motivation than a gym membership. Look for an activity that you’ve always thought you might like to try, and see if it fits into your schedule. “Date around” and try a few different classes or activities without commitment. Eventually you’ll land on one that might stick!

If you’re nervous about getting back to the gym because it’s been a while and equipment (or your body) has changed, do a few private sessions with a trainer, who can get you up to speed, so you’ll be better prepared to go solo.

Hopefully you’ve been looking forward to this time—this little bit of YOU time. You deserve it, you need it, and you owe it to yourself and your family to stay in shape. So get out there and find a new workout routine…and then stick to it!

Down, but SO Not Out

It’s not easy to admit that my body is getting older. I subscribe fully to the truth that age is only a number, otherwise meaningless. I put my body through workouts now that are possibly tougher than some of the ones I did 20 years ago. And yet, I am learning I am not invincible. To be fair, I wasn’t invincible 20 years ago either. But at least back then I wasn’t expected to realize that.

Last week I strained my back—that’s where this is stemming from. It wasn’t too terrible—I could still walk and drive, I wasn’t confined to the sofa—but I was debilitated. I couldn’t pick up my son, or the cat fur I saw on the floor. Worse, I couldn’t work out. It was highly frustrating. I felt like I could see my body changing before my eyes, and then realized it had only been 2 days since I’d last exercised.

The very first thing I did when it happened was some light but consistent (hourly) stretching so my back wouldn’t just stiffen up. Getting into the stretches hurt a bit, but the stretches themselves felt wonderful. I used a cold pack and tried to lie still a while. Then I went to see an RN who’s also a personal trainer. She said, “You know why they sent you to me? Because I’m going to tell you to take the advice you give your clients every single day!” I really don’t know why I paid for the visit. I dish it out all the time:
1. Rest and ice. Just for a couple of days! Come on!
2. Ibuprofen for the inflammation—regular doses, don’t be afraid to take the meds.
3. Stretch, stretch, stretch! One yoga class a week will not suffice!
4. Vary your workouts. Too much of any one thing will almost certainly result in injury of some variety.

Just days before my strain I had been noting to myself that I had been doing almost exclusively high-impact exercise of late. My schedule has been keeping me from my usual lower-impact choices, like spinning, and we’ve been doing lots and lots of extra walking with this beautiful weather—to the point that my feet have been hurting a little. So I actually rode the bike at the gym one day—something I never do because I think it’s boring, and used the elliptical-style machine—ditto about the boring—and then, bang! The next day I bent over and my muscle spasmed and my body said, “too little too late.”

I am so grateful that my injury wasn’t as bad as I know some back injuries can be. Three days after it happened I ran in a neighborhood race. I attribute my quick recovery to all the work I do to stay strong in my legs and my core—they came to my rescue! And I took this surprise pain as a clear sign that I need to start treating my body with even more care. I don’t plan to ease up on my workouts, but I absolutely need to balance the running with the spinning and swimming and strength work, laying off from all the pounding of running to challenge my body in other ways to give my back a break. I think I’ll also take this as a sign that it’s time to start getting regular massages!

I’m an active person, always have been, and sharing the passion is what I live for. But that doesn’t mean I’m above routine aches and pains. It’s time to admit that I’m only human, and that while exercise fixes most body issues, it can also cause some—if we’re not careful.

I Am My Body

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is March 2nd. So here, a tribute:


I am my body, my body is me.

I’m living inside it, you get what you see.


Treat it with care and the world seems so vast,

Strength and agility make youthfulness last.


Energy leaps from my fingers and toes—

I follow that spirit wherever it goes.


To yoga! To spinning! To run on the ‘Line!

Of course to lift weights, too—(you’ve got to make time…)


Water, I must say, is my drink of choice,

To recharge and hydrate, and here we rejoice—


Because also that water can help keep me slim!

It’s not like your Cokes that you sip on a whim.


One sip, then two sips, then three sips, then four—

Now you are looking but can’t find your core.


It’s missing! It’s buried, it’s in there somewhere—

Your abs were so tight once, you know they’re in there!


Come back to the bright side. Take shelter, get clean.

Bad habits are just that—and from those you can wean.


Remember your body is your living space.

Be tidy, sweep often, live large and EMBRACE!

A Good Time for Transformation

The way I see it, life is pretty mundane unless you’re working on some sort of transformation. Giving up smoking, becoming vegetarian, becoming a parent—whether it’s a small or huge change, there’s a reason every year begins with New Year’s resolutions and the excitement about “starting fresh.” Life would be a long walk on a treadmill if we didn’t throw some challenges in its wake every now and again.

We love us a good transformation. It’s my favorite part of a talk show—when they show the grizzly bear of a man in the “before” picture, and then have the Men’s Health cover-ready version walk out on stage in the “after” version. Or the dowdy woman who has never cut her hair or shopped at a mall who walks out in a trendy new ‘do and J. Crew outfit? Forget about it. It makes me tear up. And I just bet it has the same effect on you.

In my world, the transformations I see most often are flabby to tight. Weak to strong. Heavy to much, much lighter. Carnivore to herbivore. Mindless to thoughtful. You see, becoming a healthier being is not just about waking up early to get your 30 minutes in at the gym. It’s also about transforming yourself, mind, body and spirit. Imagine you are going to be the guest on that talk show: what would your “before” picture look like? And what about the “after”? What is it you hope to transform?

I consider myself a constant work in progress. My body—that’s a given. I’m always finding ways to push myself to higher boundaries. But spiraling out of that is the diet transformation, which has gone from vegetarian to mostly vegan, always looking for more ways to be more plant-based and learning, learning, learning…. It’s genuinely a thrill. Then there’s the spiritual, metaphysical part of me that’s goading my transformation from a reluctant successful trainer to allowing myself to ask, what if? What if I do allow my business to blossom? What if things get big? What if?

I do love a good walk on a treadmill, but I can’t imagine being stuck on it for too long. I stay inspired by watching the transformative successes of my clients, and by creating new challenges for myself all the time. What does your “after” picture look like? What small steps can you take now to get yourself from here to there?

Are You a Nibbler?

Does this sound familiar: You head over to your parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner, hang out a while, and finally sit down to the table for the grand meal… only to find that your mom won’t be fixing herself a plate. Apparently she’s been “nibbling all day” and is no longer hungry. Right? Heard that one?

It happens all the time, not just on holidays, and it might be sabotaging the good moves you’ve made in the diet arena. It’s sampling as you cook, or it’s eating what the kids left over, or it’s munching on the crust of the pizza when the box has long been abandoned. All these little bites—the ones that don’t make it onto your food diary log—add up, and their total calories could be worth noting.

You might be thinking “I totally do that!” but you might also be thinking “Do I do that?” There are people who consciously nibble as they bake or cook, and there are people who do it without realizing they do it. It’s time to start paying attention. If you prepare dinner for your family but find you have little appetite when it’s time to plate the food, you are likely a nibbler. Try to notice what your hands and jaws are doing while you’re cooking.

If you know you’re guilty already, curb the problem by first identifying why you do it—do you feel guilty throwing your kids’ uneaten food away? No problem. Pack it up and put it in the fridge for tomorrow, or add it to the compost bin. You might just consistently cook more than you need to. Prepare less, let your family eat it all, and if they’re still hungry, offer them an apple. Do you hate to leave just one bite (not enough to put in Tupperware)? Pause just long enough to think—is it really worth adding that bite to my midsection? I thought not. Women especially have a tough time tossing out perfectly good food. It’s probably got something to do with starving children in Africa. It’s a good instinct, but it’s not our fault those kids are starving, and adding inches to our midlines is not going to feed anyone else’s kids.

As you nibble while you cook, start writing it down. Don’t make it official—little bites don’t need to be recorded in My Fitness Pal—but keep a notepad by your cutting board, and as you nibble, scribble it down. I think by the fifth time you have to wipe your hands to pick up the pen to note yet another “tiny bite,” you might be cured—for the day anyway!

What this all amounts to is adding some consciousness to your food preparing. Realize that all those little bites of crust add up to calories you absolutely didn’t need that day, and would have been perfectly fine without. Occasional tasting is fine. It’s the habitual nibbling that might be the reason you can’t seem to part with those last couple of unwanted pounds.

Into the Mouths of Babes

Train the taste buds right from the start.

My baby is 6 today. Six! My baby! I remember the day we brought her home from the hospital SO VIVIDLY. And yet…

The other day when her 2-year-old brother was begging for a granola-type bar right before dinner, Bella said, “Mommy. I have to tell you something. It’s a secret, so lean down close to me.” I leaned down. She said, “I think when these bars are gone, we shouldn’t buy bars anymore.” I said, “Really? Won’t you miss eating them?” She nodded. But that was okay with her. Because she wants her brother to have better eating habits. At 6, she already says things like, “I think I need to take a break from sugar tomorrow.” And when tomorrow comes and she asks for dessert and I remind her what she said, she ACTUALLY SAYS “OH YEAH” AND DOESN’T EAT DESSERT.

Continue reading “Into the Mouths of Babes”

#42: Too Busy for Your Own Good?

Your life is full, but are you happy?

Do you ever sit down to eat dinner and say, “Wow. I think this is the first time I’ve sat down all day!” I do. It can’t be true, but it sure does feel like it sometimes. It is so easy to get caught up in the grind of life—running the kids around, getting some work done, picking up milk at the store, cooking if you’re lucky, more work, emails—to the point that you may have lost touch with your friends, family, or even yourself. If you are someone who says, “I don’t have time to exercise,” this might be describing you.

You might be busy, but are you happy? Think about that for a second. Are you making time for you to be happy? Sometimes when we are too busy, we overlook our own needs; a basic example is how you might be so focused on the presentation you’re writing that you put off getting up to use the bathroom for an hour or more. Caught you, huh? If you neglect yourself, you won’t be able to be the best you you can be.

Continue reading “#42: Too Busy for Your Own Good?”

#39: Clear Your Clutter (reprise)

For my readers new and old, I thought this post worthy of a re-post.

Maybe some of you are familiar with this New Year’s resolution: Clean out the house and keep it clutter-free. It is hard work to keep the house uncluttered when you’re busy, and even more so when you’re busy and have children. When you work, too, well, it’s almost easier to just give up. But don’t.

When you live in a cluttered home, you hold clutter on the inside, too. In fact, when you visit a person’s home and it’s just stuff everywhere, you can tell a lot about that person. Not that he or she is necessarily dirty or lazy, but that he or she likely has some unresolved issues. It’s true: Clutter is only a surface expression of a deeper issue. When you keep your home organized and clean, your heart and mind are more free and available to the people and things that are important to you.

Continue reading “#39: Clear Your Clutter (reprise)”