Wednesday, February 29, 2012


From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day I participated in the Runner’s World Run Streak, which meant that I committed to running (OK, there was some walking too) at least one mile per day for each day for a total of 40 days.  It was an interesting experiment for me. 

One of my biggest discoveries throughout the process was that once I got myself motivated enough to change my clothes and get on the treadmill, I was home free.  Most days I would keep going after my mile had passed.  The hardest part for me was getting off of the couch, or out of bed, or away from the open bag of peanut butter M&M’S and telling myself that I was going to make my mile happen.  The mental challenge was far more difficult than the physical one. 

Of course, some days were harder than others.  On Christmas Eve I ended up switching my heels for sneakers but leaving on my tights, skirt, and sweater and walking my mile on the treadmill between Christmas Eve Dinner and our Christmas Eve 11 p.m. church service.  One day I had to get up before work to get my mile in, which wouldn’t be a big deal for anyone else but considering I find getting out of bed to be the hardest part of my day, it seemed like an exceptional achievement.  The break in my routine felt refreshing.  In a goofy way I felt like it opened my eyes to other possibilities in my life. 

Knowing that I had to get my mile in made me a better planner.  With holiday parties, work, family events, etc. I had to actually put the effort in to think about how I was going to spend my day.  I found that the most challenging days for me were actually the days when I didn’t have a ton going on and could really run my mile whenever.  The days when I only had 15 minutes to fit it in it was done and over and I was onto the next thing.  But the days when I could do it whenever I procrastinated forever.  You know that saying that work will expand into the amount of time that you leave available to do it?  Some days that mile took me 8 hours.  Not because I’m the world’s slowest runner, but because it took me 7 hours and 52 minutes to get my butt on the treadmill, and 8 minutes to run once I got there.

I do think there’s something to this whole planning thing.  I did find at least 15 minutes each day to get my run in, and I routinely work 10 hour days, have an hour commute each way, go out to dinner with friends and family, watch stupid television, and eat frozen yogurt.  I also really enjoy sleeping.  If I can find 15 minutes to run, can I find 15 minutes to prepare healthier foods for the day?  To write?  To blog?  To do something nice for someone else?  To call a friend that I haven’t talked to in a while?  To meditate?

What would you do with your found 15 minutes if you could get your brain out of the way and be motivated enough to do it?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lazy Saturday Morning

Normally I start out every weekend with a cup of coffee and a nice big breakfast (eggs and waffles made by my wonderful husband) while creating a mental checklist of everything that I need to accomplish.  Laundry, grocery store, a workout, exercise for Clyde, and on and on and on.  I think I feel like if I can't look back on Sunday night and check off a zillion mental boxes then my weekend was a waste.  

At the same time, I think having a mental break and a chance to recharge your batteries is under-rated. My job can be stressful and demanding and working in sales I think you have to be "on" all the time, which means that sitting in bed in my sweatpants and zoning out can be so very appealing.  So this morning, that's what I'm doing.  Sitting here and typing in my PJ's with Clyde snoring at the bottom of the bed and Ice Loves Coco (yes, I'm embarrassed to even admit that) blabbing along in the background.  I'm still thinking about what I need to get done today... a BarreAmped class at 3 p.m., a couple of query letters, some laundry... but at the moment I think they can all wait.  

A morning in bed does not a lazy bum make.  Maybe that means I will be more productive later.  Maybe not.  Either way, I'm giving myself permission to veg out.
What do you do to relax?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Workouuuuuttt

Please repeat the title of this blog to the autotuned goodness of the LMFAO song and M&M Super Bowl commercial of awesomeness....

My posts have been pretty serious for the last two days, so I thought I would lighten it up a little bit today.  The weather here in Philadelphia has been unseasonably and unusually warm (we hit 61 yesterday!) which always makes me feel more excited about working out.  When it’s bitterly cold outside it doesn’t seem to matter that my gym is in fact indoors, all I want to do is curl up on the couch in my least flattering fleece clothing and watch stupid television.  (Of course, the cold weather never seems to stop me from eating ice cream.  Go figure.)

I went for a really nice long run on Monday on a route from my mom’s house that I have run for as long as I can remember.  It’s the same route that I ran the morning of my wedding day.  It’s around 7 miles and winds me through neighborhoods and nearby stores, which makes for lots of good people watching and window shopping.  I followed that up with a nice stroll on the trail near our house with Mike and Clyde.  Tuesday I worked out in the gym at work during my lunch hour on some funky cross training machine that’s like a mix of the elliptical and a Nordic Track, but instead of skiing forward, you ski sideways?  The screen lets you play solitaire on it while you workout, so that’s pretty much my entire motivation to use it!  Tuesday night my sister and niece met me for a nice walk around the neighborhood.  Samantha is 3, but insisted on walking Clyde herself.  Clyde obliged, but not without giving me a few looks of, “Boy do you owe me for this one.”

Then yesterday I took the hardest BarreAmped class that I’ve taken to date.  It was brutal.  My legs burned so much that they felt like they were full of molten lava.  My arms shook just trying to pull my ponytail holder out of my hair.  I felt like I had Jell-O for bones.  I totally loved it.  Not sure whether that makes me hardcore, crazy, or just a total masochist but it made me feel such an awesome sense of accomplishment!

I think my goal for lent is going to be to not be a weenie, so a class like that seems to be a good start.

Off to make cold calls…

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Recently one of my clients invited me to the premiere of Act of Valor, a serious action movie filmed with active Navy Seals.  I typically prefer a nice, light romantic comedy, but I have to say that the movie blew my mind in a lot of ways.  For the record, I am so grateful for the sacrifices that our military members and their families make, and so impressed with their honor and strength and bravery.  If you haven’t seen the movie you should, if only to open your eyes a little bit to the things that other people worry about so the average American citizen doesn’t have to.

In the movie there is a very powerful quote from Tecumseh.  It reads, “When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”

Now if you can get past the whole morbid, depressing death stuff, it’s kind of an amazing, eye-opening thought.  We spend so much time thinking about how to lengthen our lives.  The entire health and wellness industry is based on living longer and looking and feeling younger.  We (try to) exercise, eat better, and take supplements to extend our lives.  We take medicine to bring down our cholesterol levels.  We wear seatbelts and sunblock.  We quit smoking.

But instead of worrying about living longer (especially since it’s not something we have a tremendous amount of control over) what if we just try to live better?  I want to make every second count.  I want to be lying on my death bed with every ounce of fun and joy in my body squeezed out of my life like an old sponge.  To be honest, I don’t really know how to do that.  It’s easy to say that I would just jump on a plane and travel the world and that would mean I would be living my life to the fullest, but I’d probably get homesick or catch malaria or get kidnapped by an evil drug lord.  I could quit my job and spend my life volunteering, but money and health insurance help make my life easier (and I’d be really sad to not be able to afford cute shoes or a nice bottle of wine).

One of my dreams in life is to become a published novelist.  That said, I don't think I'd regret it if that dream doesn't come true as long as I did everything in my power to put myself out there and try.  By the same token, if I fail at my job but I made a million sales calls and tried to leave it all on the table, then I'd have no regrets.  The regrets aren't in the failing, they're in not trying.
So at this point in my life I'm going to commit to trying.  To putting myself out there.  To appreciating the beautiful pink sunset on my way home, even if that sunset is draped over a stagnant line of cars puffing out exhaust on I-95.  To really enjoy my morning cup of coffee, even if it’s sitting at my kitchen table watching The Today Show and not sitting in Piazza Navona in Rome.  Sure, it’s not nearly as glamorous and exciting as jet-setting around the world until I run out of free couches to sleep on, but it’s something. 

That said, if anyone wants to become my rich benefactor so I can actually be sitting in Piazza Navona instead of the suburbs in PA, I’m all ears…


Tomorrow is the first day of lent, which means that many Christians will decide to give something up or add something to their lives for the next 40 days.  Many people give up a food indulgence like desserts or cookies or potato chips.  Some people give up not-so-great behaviors like squabbling or swearing. 

This got me thinking.  What if we really made a commitment in our lives to give up the habits that get us in the most trouble, not for just 40 days but forever?  I don’t just mean the obvious ones like smoking, speeding, drinking, lying, stealing, or eating fast food.  I mean those big, giant hippo-sized changes that we pretend we don’t need to make because the prospect is so terrifying that it’s just easier to ignore them altogether.

What if we stopped holding grudges?  Living in the past?  Hating our jobs but refusing to do anything about it?  Hating our bodies but refusing to change them?  What if we let go of regrets and moved on?  What if we stopped bickering over stuff we don’t care about and addressed the real underlying issues?  What if we stopped hating things we don’t understand?  Beating ourselves up?  Sabotaging our own success?  Giving into our fears?  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?  Feeling jealous of other people?  Wasting money on things we don’t really need?  Letting other people hurt us?  Wishing we had a significant other or a better house or a better child or a better life?

By the same token, what if we added something to our lives, not just for 40 days but for the next 40 forevers?  What if we decided to add more love by adopting a child or a pet, or by volunteering?  What if we decided to add more fun by reaching out to friends and families and trying new things?  More laughter?  More patience?  More listening?  More kindness?  More (calculated) risks?  More joy?  More thankfulness?

Just a thought.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Three-Day Weekend

Is it just me, or would life just be so much better if every work week was followed by a three-day weekend?  Somehow that extra day makes it feel like a real break.  All of the normal chores you do in a weekend are done already, so you truly get a day off.  I love it.

For me the ideal "day off" includes a nice long run outside (weather permitting of course), a pedicure or massage (wallet permitting of course), a nap, a good book, and a really yummy dinner followed by some sort of chocolate amazingness.  Not very glamorous I guess, but sometimes happiness doesn't have to involve an exotic vacation or a lottery win.

I've been thinking about happiness a lot lately.  Sometimes it seems more elusive than a perfectly flattering pair of jeans.  It should be so simple, right?  Surround yourself with people you love who love and understand you.  Do nice things for other people.  Find a career that fulfills you and a safe, homey place to live.  Get exercise and be proactive about your health.  Invest in your spiritual life.  Invest in your bank account.  Have things to be excited about.

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "Have something to love, something to do, and something to look forward to."

But sometimes it's really hard to find people to love who love you back and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. It's not easy to figure out what you want to do for a living or if you know what you want to do, how to get your foot in the door.  Putting yourself out there can be debilitatingly difficult.  Especially when you don't have the perfect body or tons of money or a supportive family.  Especially if you have health problems or financial problems.  Especially when you have a job (or two or three) that keeps you occupied, or a child (or two or three) that needs to be your first priority.

Of course, none of us have unlimited time or resources to figure out how to be happy.  (If we did, we'd probably be perfectly happy in the first place.)  So how do we do it?  Is it about making small changes or just changing our priorities?  Is it a decision we make every morning when we wake up or is it dictated by our circumstances?

Maybe it's just about being grateful for the categories (home, relationships, career, family, health, etc.) that we do have figured out.  Maybe you have the perfect career but just need some more time to find the perfect man.  Or you love your home and volunteer once a week helping care for shelter pets but would love to lose 20 lbs.  Maybe you don't have a single thing figured out but you really, really love your coffee maker.  That has to count for something right?

All I know is that I'm going to dedicate more of my time to figuring out how to be happier.  I want to take advantage of the opportunities in my life.  I want to have more fun.  I want to squeeze every little ounce of awesomeness out of my life.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Newest Obsession

As a runner even the mere suggestion that any other exercise is worthy of an hour of my time would probably cause me to stick my nose in the air and feel smug.  Obviously the "suggester" just doesn't get it.  They have never experienced the true high that comes from a really good run, or the jealousy that pulses in my legs when I drive past a runner gracefully gliding up a hill, even if I ran just finished my own run a few hours before.

It's not that I haven't tried other workouts.  I've been to boot camp classes.  I've tried pilates and kickboxing.  I've taken and enjoyed yoga, but when I say "enjoyed" really I mean that I liked the 2 minutes at the end where I enjoyed lying on the mat feeling like I accomplished something.  It was like eating my vegetables or paying my taxes.  It wasn't the class I enjoyed, but the feeling afterward.  I have trouble with downward dog, whether that's because of my super-tight runner's hamstrings or just because I'm totally uncoordinated, I'm not sure.  When I take yoga classes and suddenly discover that the rest pose is downward dog, I die a little on the inside.  I once ran out of a yoga class after realizing that I couldn't do three out of the first four poses and had the male instructor follow me into the ladies locker room to drag me back.  I survived, but I didn't exactly enjoy it.

So needless to say, when I heard about BarreAmped I figured I would probably get something out of it, but I assumed I would take my one free class and then find my way back onto the comfort of my treadmill or elliptical by the time my next workout came around.  If I'm going to spend an hour working out I want to get as much as possible out of it, and for me the most efficient way to do that is usually through straight cardio.

When we walked into the room the instructor told us to pick up some 1, 2, or 3 lb. weights.  Smugly I thought this class is going to be cake.  If I lift (which is rare, I admit) I use 8 or 10 lb. weights, so the idea of using 3's seemed ridiculous. A minute and a half later I had already switched to 1's.  My arms were burning!  With stick straight arms we did tiny pulses in sets of 8 to target our biceps, triceps, backs and shoulders from every different angle.  We didn't put our arms down, we didn't have big sweeping motions that let us use momentum to do the work--everything was tiny and precise and controlled.  

From there we went to the barre.  By the time we did squats, leg lifts, and "seat work," the term "up an inch and hold, up an inch and hold" was burned into my brain.  My legs were shaking.  Seriously shaking.  I felt like a weirdo who had suddenly lost all control of my limbs.  (According to our instructor this is totally normal and shows that you're really working all of the tiny little muscles in your body that we don't usually use.  I think she was just being nice.)  I do squats and lunges on my own and I have never had that kind of a reaction from my body.  It was crazy.

We then went onto the mat and did ab work and finished with push ups and planks before some stretching.  Every exercise was completely focused on form.  There was no getting lazy.  There was no slacking off.  By the end of each movement my body was burning, but in the best way possible.

Most surprisingly to me, the class flew by.  I was so focused on each movement that I wasn't thinking about the amount of time still left.  I wasn't worrying about work or thinking about what I was going to eat when I got home.  I was focusing 100% on what I was doing.  (OK, 98% on what I was doing and 2% on how much I hated the instructor for inflicting such pain on my body.)

Even though I was incredibly sore for 2 days after the class, I am now a total Barre Amped addict.  It will never replace running for me, but it has finally made me look forward to strength training.  I feel myself getting stronger, and I'm sure that if I stopped eating massive amounts of Whoopie Pies, I would see my muscles become more toned.  It's an hour mental break in my day that I can feel amazing about afterward.  The craziest part is, if I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone and tried the class, I never would have known what I was missing!

What are you willing to try today?