Friday, January 20, 2017

Get Your Zzzs

I’m a Sleep Zealot.

If I don’t get enough sleep, I turn into a crazy person who is grumpy, snippy and irate.
I’m overly emotional to the point that I’m liable to tear up at a Hallmark commercial.
I lose my keys, my phone and my mind. I also lose all control around food so there’s no resisting the donuts at work.

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to Be Me. When it comes to sleep, that means the following:

·   On a Friday night, you’ll often find me at home in my jammies, curled up with Netflix and a glass of wine. I sometimes suffer from FOMO when I get on Facebook or Instagram and see all the fun stuff I'm missing. But when I’m tired, I aim for a relaxing evening and an early bedtime.

·   During the week, I turn off the TV at 9 p.m. and get into bed with a good book. NO technology and lights out at 10-ish.

·   On Saturdays and Sundays, I don’t set an alarm. I still get up relatively early, but I don’t jump out of bed and get moving. Every other morning of the week I'm up before the sun, dressed and out the door early so on the weekend, I’m inclined to relax.

·   Occasionally, when I’m really, really exhausted, I’ll go to sleep at 9 p.m.  And it feels great.

Sleep, glorious sleep!

Turns out, there’s science to back up my obsession with sleep.

Sleep deprivation is bad for your health.

Fatigue is blamed for car crashes and workplace accidents. Sleep deprivation puts you at risk for serious health problems like heart attack, high blood pressure and depression. Sleep loss impacts the way your brain functions, making it harder to concentrate, solve problems and make decisions. Lack of sleep is also related to an increase in hunger and appetite.

Now I understand why, when I’m tired, I reach for the M&Ms.

In our 24/7 culture, it’s a badge of honor to talk about how tired we are or how well we function on just a few hours of sleep. Yet, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you also aren’t in a position to judge how well you’re getting along. You may be impaired and not realize it.

In her book, The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington details the physical, emotional and financial costs of sleep loss. She writes:

Scientists are resoundingly confirming what our ancestors knew    instinctively: that our sleep is not empty time. Sleep is a time of intense neurological activity - a rich time of renewal, memory consolidation, brain and neurochemical cleansing, and cognitive maintenance. Properly appraised, our sleeping time is as valuable a commodity as the time we are awake. In fact, getting the right amount of sleep enhances the quality of every minute we spend
with our eyes open.

My magic sleep number is 7.5 hours. After a night like that, I can take on the world.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And the Word of the Year Is....

Last week in my Fly Fitness yoga class, Kendra challenged us to choose a word for the year. Just as you might set your “intention” for your yoga practice, this word sets an intention for 2017.

Of course, the first word that popped into my head was “chocolate” followed quickly by “wine”. Yeeeaaahhh. I'm pretty sure that's not what Kendra meant about choosing an intention.

I chose and discarded other words during that class.

“Joy” is too broad.
“Challenge” sounds exhausting.
Aargh? (Technically, not a word but it did pop into my head as I tried to master crow pose.)

By the time we finally reached shivasana, I had it.


Last week, I blogged about resolutions because I love making them and I’m a committed goal-setter. Choosing a word of the year  distills that list to one theme and helps me focus my actions.

The word “nourish” seems to fit with all my resolutions.

“Nourish” refers to making healthy, delicious food that fuels my body. 
Healthy comfort food warms my heart. And my belly.

Yoga and meditation are two activities I want to do more of because they nourish my brain, body and spirit. 

Paddle boarding will, hopefully, nurture my fun and adventurous side. (Or it could be a disaster. We’ll see.)

I’m hoping my word of the year will also help me decide what to accept or reject. 

Before I take on a project or say yes to an obligation, I’m going to ask myself how it nourishes my life. And if I can’t find a good answer, I can say no.


It’s my word for 2017. 
Followed closely by chocolate and wine. (Don't judge me.)

What word would you choose?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017, I'm Comin' for Ya!

Yes, I make New Year’s resolutions.

I love to set goals and make lists and check things off. And the beginning of the year is a great time for a reset.

Goodbye Holidays.

I take the Christmas tree down, vacuum up the pine needles and stow the bins of decorations in the basement for another year. And when the house is peaceful and serene again, I take out my brand new planner and colored felt-tip pens and go to town.

Hello Planner.
Yoga Goals! Weight loss Goals! Financial Goals! 
Entertain more!
Be more mindful!
Try a digital detox!

True, I fell short on many of the goals I set for myself last year at this time.

But I give myself credit for accomplishing a few, especially in the area of wellness.

  • I started going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. The extra sleep helps me feel better and I'm more productive.
  • Yoga is gradually becoming a consistent part of my routine.
  • I started a meditation practice. It's a work in progress, but I think I see benefits in stress reduction and mindfulness. 

I didn’t achieve the weight loss goal I set for myself in 2016 and I’m okay with that. I continue to exercise 5-6 times a week in a variety of ways, including Jazzercise Fusion, Flip Fusion and Strength classes. (Love those formats!) At Fly Fitness, the facility near my office downtown, I take barre, HIIT, spinning and yoga. It’s a good mix.


What’s the plan for 2017?

Instead of broad, sweeping resolutions, I’m going to be very specific. 

And no more weight loss goals. I’m concentrating on strength and flexibility, with an emphasis on improving my diet. I also will continue to work on reducing stress and improving mindfulness.

  • Build my yoga practice. It’s hard to fit in another class but I’m going to incorporate a sun salutation combination in the morning and a relaxation/flexibility routine in the evening.

  • Take the meal prep class at the Wellness Kitchen on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East campus. Find easy ways to plan and prep meals on the weekends.

  • Eat fish for dinner at least twice a month.

  • Take the January Personal Touch class at Jazzercise.

  • Find a meditation retreat or class.

  • Join an accountability group.

  • Try a Reiki Mushroom extract.

  • Start taking fish oil and red yeast rice supplements. I’m not a big supplement fan but both of these have been shown to be good cholesterol fighters. My HDL, or “good” cholesterol is high and my LDL or “bad” cholesterol is low but my total number has been creeping up over the last two years. I’d like to bring it down.

  • Go paddleboarding.

  • Make seasonal goals to keep me on track.

Do you make resolutions or goals for the new year?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Powering Through

It’s a good thing I don’t have a couch in my office.

If I did, I’d probably nod off every day about 2PM. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an afternoon nap. The Huffington Post actually has nap rooms for its employees and president Arianna Huffington is a firm believer in the importance of getting enough rest.

But most days I have to power through a busy afternoon and and a nap isn’t going to happen.
I’ve discovered a good midday sweat sesh makes a difference.

I get my heart pumping over the noon hour at Fly Fitness, a studio near my office that offers a variety of classes. Most of them are 45 minutes so I can shower, fix my hair and get back to work in no time. Jazzercise offers a 12:15 express class that's 30 minutes and my favorite weekend classes are the 1:30 Fusion and Flip Fusion formats.

Afternoon classes fuel the rest of my day and clear out the cobwebs.

There’s science behind the idea that exercise increases productivity. Physical exertion actually boosts energy by stimulating the development of mitochondria. Mitochondria is known as the cell’s power plant because it produces ATP, the chemical your body uses as energy, not only for physical tasks but for your brain, as well. Okay, enough biology. All that matters is exercise helps stimulate the brain.

Add a motivating playlist and you have the prescription for an energized afternoon.

Take, for example, the Fly Ride cycling class I took last summer taught by Kim Barrett. Kim is a friend and colleague and the human personification of the Energizer Bunny. She stays on top of the crazy schedules of two kids, a spouse and a job and still manages to teach fitness classes. With a smile on her face.

Kim knocked it out of the park with a class she called the Empowerment Ride. Throughout the class, she nudged us up those hills with a kick-a** playlist and a series of motivating messages, including:

Fight for you goals.
Be present in your life.
Be proud of yourself.
Figure out what you want and go after it.
Rise up.
Be powerful.
Be confident.
Support each other.

I went back to work feeling strong, determined and ready for anything.
Don’t mess with me.

Even when I can’t get away for a full workout during the day, I try to get up from my desk and take a short walk to clear out the cobwebs in my brain.

So if you’re the kind of person who starts to drag in the afternoon, head for the gym at lunchtime. If your schedule doesn’t allow it, lace up your shoes and take a quick spin around the block. You’ll be glad you did.

By the way, here are the songs on Kim’s Empowerment playlist, in case you want to make your own. I did.
            Remember the Name – The Rising Tied
            Rise Up – Audra Day
            Powerful – Major Lazar
Broken Arrows – Avicii
Me Too – Meghan Trainor
            Not Afraid – Eminem
            The Power – SNAP!
            Confident – Demi Lovato
            Stand By You – Rachel Platten

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September is the new January...

…minus the snow and ice and bitter cold.

Fall is my hands down my favorite season of the year. I love cool crisp mornings, a warm sun during the day and no humidity. Football and pumpkin spice. Yes, this is my time.

It always feels like a new beginning.

I don’t have school age children but I work on a university campus so I feel that return to routine. I get the urge to buy school supplies, pull out some colored markers and fill in my planner. There’s a new energy associated with fall that is just like the start of a calendar year, but without the pressure.

Here are some of my wellness/fitness related goals.

·      Do more meal-planning and prep on the weekend. I don’t want to spend hours cooking on Sunday but it helps to have a plan for the week. And I’d like to do a little prep so that I’m not scrambling to throw together a healthy dinner when I’m exhausted after work.

·      Boost the protein in my diet. I always try to get my nutrients from food but this one is a bit of a challenge. I’m going to research protein powders and try some in my smoothie in the morning.

·      Go hiking somewhere beautiful when the leaves change. Fall is the perfect time for outdoor exercise.

·      Indulge in a luxurious spa treatment. I have a gift certificate for a local day spa that I haven’t used yet and a facial/massage/hot stone something-or-other would make a great weekend activity.

·      Make roasted pumpkins seeds. They’re easy, yummy and nutritious. And you have to carve a pumpkin to get to them.

·      Sit by my fire pit. Drink red wine. (Is that a wellness goal? Sure. File it under mental health.)

Do you like fall as much as I do? What are your goals?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Random Thoughts during PT at the Park

I recently completed a session of Personal Touch in the Park, a four week small group class offered through Jazzercise and taught by Fara. (Fara of triathlon fame.) It's one of my favorite classes because it's outside, it's a different workout experience and it's fun. Which is not to say there isn't some whining involved.

Here are some of the thoughts that go through my head during the class.
  • It's 350 degrees out and I feel like I'm in the jungle. I'm already sweating and I haven't gotten out of the car yet.
  •  It's almost time for the class to start and Fara's not here yet. Maybe she's not coming. 
  • Oh, no, here she is with that big smile on her face, carrying an armload of red tubes. She's relieved that the weather isn't as bad as she thought it would be. (Because if it were any more humid it would be raining.)
  • Maybe she'll take it easy on us because it's so hot.
  • Nope. We're running. And we're running up that hill. Well, actually, other people are running up that hill. I'm sort of trudging, hobbling and muttering under my breath. I can't do this. It's too hot. I can't do this. I can't....
  • Hey, I made it! I am awesome. I am a beast. I can do this.
  • Oh, no. I can't do this. Step-ups onto the picnic table bench are made for tall people with long legs, not short people like me with legs still quivering from the hill. But only twenty. I can do twenty! What?! Twenty each leg? She's kidding, right? Followed by 50 squats. 

  • Moving on to chest and arms with the tube. Sweat is dripping off my face. Why do I sweat so much? It's not a good look. 

  •  MORE CARDIO. Just a little sidestepping and a few lunges. A few million lunges. 

  • Ahhh. A breeze. 
  • Planks, planks and more planks. Who invented planks? This could substitute for waterboarding. I'd give up a lot of secrets to be able to put my knees down right now.
  •  More ab work. At least we get to lie down. What if I can't get up again?

And done!
I feel great! Let's do it again!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

We're Halfway There

So far in July…

This happened. 

·      A holiday weekend that was SOOOO much fun but didn’t exactly break fitness records. My favorite quote from the weekend was: “Do you need sugar before you do this? Well, I do.” (Yes, Sharon, you gave us permission to buy red licorice. And yes, it does taste good with beer.)

·      One workout. Just one. I went to Jazzercise on Saturday. Okay, I did take the dogs for walks so I wasn’t a complete sloth. But most of the time, I sat there. In a lawn chair by the lake. Around the firepit. Around the cabin drinking coffee. At home in front of the TV.

·      Lots of delicious food. Shish-kebabs, pasta salad, cookies, breakfast casserole. We even ate cherry pie straight out of the pie pan, falling upon it like a pack of dogs. Not a pretty sight.

It occurs to me, that we’re halfway through the year and I’m not really on-track with my fitness goals.

I did get back at it yesterday with a sensible diet and a cycling class at Fly Fitness. This morning there are TWO boxes of donuts in the break room at work and I refuse to succumb. And I AM going to Jazzercise after work. 

I feel better already.

I’m also re-focusing on my goals.
Here they are:

·      Lose ten pounds.
·      Try paddleboarding.
·      Get my resting metabolic rate tested.
·      Meet with a nutritionist
·      Organize a healthy meal-planning class.

What’s your fitness plan for the rest of 2016?