cleaning up our act

Over the weekend I had family over for dinner and some brussel sprouts roasting in the oven. Seems like no big deal, but I burnt them. I was seriously looking forward to eating them, and so was everyone else. Like any kitchen mishap, I had some cleanup to do; the half sheet pan they were roasting on needed a good scrubbing. In using the old elbow grease, I had a revelation about our own need for taking care of ourselves and how it’s never too late to start cleaning up our act.

HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

I neglected to get a before shot of my half sheet pan, but let’s just say it had a good layer of burnt brussel sprouts on it, along with seasoning from previous forays in the kitchen.  I had a moment of negative self-talk about how I’d let things get out of control; for how filthy my pan was and my neglect for scrubbing it all off earlier. But let’s be real, all the bacon, roasts (chicken, beef, ham), and delectable vegetables left their marks on the pan that a regular sponge or dishwasher couldn’t get off. It took me getting out the Brillo pad, scrubbing, and SCRUBBING to get that pan back to its shiny self.

As I scrubbed and scrubbed, it got me thinking about the ways in which we take care of ourselves. How at times, a messy pan can be intimidating. How when our work is so clearly cut out for us, it makes us feel nervous. The pressure of can we/can’t we sets in and it’s downright scary. Let’s face it, we all kinda want to eat a little cleaner, to live a little more active lifestyle, to donate a little more to organizations we believe in…but finding the time, the energy, the money can make us feel anxious.

When the scaries set in, the best defense is a small step forward. There are many little things we can do each day to take better care of ourselves. Instead of trying to wrangle them all at once, choose just one or two and see if you can stick to it. Park a little farther away from the office if you can. Challenge yourself to bring nutritious lunch to work for three days in a row. Set a “mental break” timer at work to give yourself a chance to refresh after a session of intense focus. When we break down our goals into smaller “bites” it can seem much more manageable. Plus we generate momentum by achieving these little milestones along the way.

HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

Sometimes we don’t take the first step to take care of ourselves because we’re afraid of how hard it’s going to be. Sometimes we feel like that burnt brussel baking sheet; like we will never get back to our old self. But if we don’t try how will we ever make any progress? The first day is always going to be hard, but a month from now it will be easier and we will be stronger. Every day you show up, every day you try to reach your goals, you’re proving to yourself it can be done. This positive experience will snowball and it WILL become easier. Although you will have to experience it for yourself.

I want to end today by saying that we all have work to do in this self-improvement department. Deep down we all have things we want to do better, but it all starts with the first step. After all, little changes over time really make a difference.

Let’s do this!

xoxo,

C

recovery discovery

I have grown to resent the number hours I need to sleep to feel rested. I find myself saying things like “if I could just wake up a little earlier” or “if I could just have a couple extra hours in the day” all the time. Although, I’m quite sure if I had “extra” time, I wouldn’t spend it resting. I would undoubtedly find ways to fill that time with all sort of stuff and find myself in the exact same situation.

Not long ago Crystal posted about slowing down and taking time to enjoy the little things in life. I read it and even commented that I agreed, but have I taken time to slow down since then? No, I have not.

Every day seems like a race against the clock to do more in our waking hours than we did the day before. If we succeed, the bar is raised! (And so is our anxiety from trying to continually increase our productivity.) If we fail, we feel sad and guilty.

So what gives? When our cell phones and tablets indicate a “low battery” we know and respect the limited amount of time left. We stop what we are doing and scramble to find an outlet, we rush to recharge these devices so we can stay connected. People will traipse miles in an airport or conference center to find a place to plug in their devices. We even tote little portable battery packs so that we can stay charged up.

If we can understand the limited lifespan of our rechargeable devices, should we not take it a little easier on ourselves? It’s as if we expect our “batteries” to last forever. If we do actually admit we feel depleted, we make excuses as to why we have to suffer through it and we keep on trucking.

We don’t recharge. We grind away at life, willing ourselves to continue despite our exhaustion. Why? Because we feel guilty.

Self-care is greatly undervalued in this country. Most can agree that we don’t have time to be sick/injured/tired/not in the mood, yet most of us don’t take the steps needed to prevent the maladies from affecting us.

While taking a vacation may not prevent you from getting the flu, research shows that it can relieve stress. Chronic stress can affect a wide variety of biophysical processes AND can weaken your immune system. Regular exercise and a whole food diet may not put more money in your bank account, but it may help you sleep better. Arriving at work well-rested helps us stay positive and productive. 

Taking “personal time” can be seen as a narrowly afforded luxury or worse, as an excuse for slacking off. (The entire concept of playing “hooky” was born from the idea that our personal time is not valuable enough to be taken seriously.) We feel irresponsible taking a “personal day,” like doing something just for fun is not value added. We have talked already about the importance of playtime, but still why don’t we allow ourselves a break?

If we temper our expectations for our devices when the batteries run low, why can’t we also temper our expectations for ourselves?

There is a tremendous amount of research in the fitness world that suggests that recovery is as critical to your routine as the workouts themselves. Elite athletes all over the world tout the benefits of the “off-season”. Think about it, even professional basketball players do not hit the court every single day. They spend long hours training in their chosen modality, but they also take time away. Giving the body time to rest and rebuild between workouts is the keystone to realizing progress.

Recharging does not have to include sleeping, or binge-watching shows on Netflix-although that is pretty darn nice too. Rest and recovery means engaging in low-stress (physical and emotional) activities that stimulate creativity, bring joy, or help us connect with others. Cleaning my apartment has become a favorite off-day activity for me. (I can’t believe I just said that. Mom will be SO proud!😂) I can take it at my own pace, listen to music, and by the end I feel way more relaxed.

Whether your recharge involves being playful, productive, or simply present in the moment, relish in it! Plan for and look forward to it. Make rejuvenation a habit. The ability to recover from stress (whether it’s physical stress from a workout, or emotional stress from an intense day at the office) helps us raise the intensity, to endure higher levels of stress in the future. BUT it is not until we slow down and give ourselves time to recharge that we can actually raise the bar.

The only way to make progress in life is by allowing our minds, our bodies, our spirits, to rejuvenate. Just like our cell phones, sometimes we absolutely NEED to power down and give ourselves a break. If we keep going without enough rest, we become useless…just like an iPhone with a dead battery.

Go hard, my friends! Chase your dreams, and live large. But, if you’re ever feeling tired or stressed, it’s okay! Sometimes rest is best.

Namaste,

E

five minutes MAY change your mind

HebrewDawn: five minute challenge
Time is everything; it’s money, it’s irreplaceable, it’s of the essence. It’s free, but priceless. You can make it, spend it, but you can’t own it. Time is one resource that is rarely in abundance, so we have to manage it wisely.Many people tell me that they don’t work out because they don’t have time. Well, I’m here this month to dispel that myth. We do have time, I promise! We just might have to get creative in our quest to find it. For the month of May, I invite you to try something new with me. I believe that 5 minutes each day MAY just change your mind about exercise and results. 

Take five little minutes each day to focus on you, to give back to yourself, to start progressing towards your healthy and happy future. No fancy equipment required, no gym memberships needed, no running, no burpees. It’s simple: five exercises, 1 minute each, once a day for a month. Ready join me?

Let’s do this! Here are the exercises:

Roll Ups – lay down on your back with your legs out straight and arms extended overhead. Take a deep breath in. As you breath out use your abdominal muscles to roll yourself off the floor into a seated position. Try to lift one vertebrae off the floor at a time without arching your low back. If you dont get all the way up, stop where you get stuck. Roll back down and repeat for 1 minute

Goddess Squat – standing with your feet apart. Make sure they are just outside shoulder width distance and your toes are pointed forward. Bend your knees as far as you can without lifting your heels up. Return to standing while squeezing your quads and booty on the way up. Repeat for 1 minute.

Arm circles – start standing with feet slightly apart. Raise your straight arms up to the sides so your hands are even with your shoulders. Keeping your arms straight, make circles forward and backward. Size doesn’t matter, make them big or small, make them big and small, just keep moving those straight arms for 1 minute.

Crossover toe touch – start standing with feet wide (slightly wider than goddess squat) and arms out to the sides like in the arm circles. Keeping legs and arms straight, reach your right arm towards your left leg by bending slightly at the waist and twisting your torso. If you can make contact with your knee, shin, or ankle  GREAT! If not, just reach as far as you can. Return to standing and repeat on the other side, again taking care to keep legs and arms extended straight. Repeat on each side as many times as you can for  1 minute.

Plank – start laying on the ground. Place your hands (with fingers pointed forward) directly underneath your shoulders and flex your feet so the balls of your feet are in contact with the floor. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, lift your body off the floor by pushing into the floor with hands and feet and straightening your arms. Maintain the body alignment by squeezing your thighs, booty, and core.Hold as long as you can, lower carefully back down with control. If you can’t straighten your arms and come all the way up, that’s okay! Try to push yourself up while keeping your knees on the ground. Again, make sure to squeeze your legs, booty, and core to keep the back nice and straight. You don’t have to hold plank for a full minute, just hold as long as you can and repeat as many times as you can in that 1 minute.

That’s it! While this will not transform you into a body builder in a single month, these are total body exercises that will challenge you. As you work through the month you should find that it gets easier to complete these moves. You should see an increase in the number of reps you can complete in each 1-minute round. All of this is progress – a sweet affirmation that your effort and time are well spent.

Now that you have the moves, the plan is totally up to you. You can do these moves pretty much anywhere and adapt the schedule to fit your lifestyle. Let’s say that you have a hectic day and forget your workout one day. Fear not, just double up the next day. Maybe you’re going out of town for the weekend and know you won’t have the time. Feel free to work ahead! Let’s say you’re like me and you sit at a desk all day, why not use the 1-minute rounds to take a break from being seated? Just so you know, I’ve been caught doing squats or planks in an empty conference room many times…If they ask, I just tell people I was getting tired and needed to wake up – they buy it EVERY time!

There will be good days and bad days, but they are all important. There will be days that we don’t get our workout in, despite our best efforts. Keep at it anyway. It will be hard – that’s why it’s called a challenge! Starting small, dedicating roughly 5 minutes a day, we can develop great habits that will stay with us in the long run. This challenge will prove that dedication and consistency, even in small doses, can bring us closer to our goals.

Will you join me this May in the 5-minute challenge? I sure hope so. Think of all the positive feelings you will enjoy after completing it. If you can make progress with 5 minutes a day, imagine what you can do by giving just a little more.

Best of luck to you my fierce fabulous femmes! 

 

  

HebrewDawn: 5 Minute May Challenge  

 

Getting Over the Hump

 

After a rocky start to the week, let me begin by saying congratulations for making it this far. Wednesday is always a big moment in the week for me; it’s my benchmark to evaluate what boxes I’ve checked off the to-do list and which ones still remain. Sometimes there is a shuffling of priorities, sometimes there is deep sigh of relief. This week it’s neither of these. It’s more of a shift into overdrive.

I had a conversation with my mortgage planner Sally yesterday that really lit a fire under my (sculpted) ass. She and I were talking about saving money. I was frustrated and said I should just give up on buying a house until I made more money. Sally said, “If you choose that path, you will probably never buy a home. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to. But if you do, you need to try harder. It seems that you have the tools, but you lack discipline and unfortunately sweetie, that’s on you.”

To say I was frustrated when we hung up the phone would be an understatement. The truth is that Sally was right-she had called me out.

It’s easy to put effort into the things we enjoy. Ask anyone, I will gladly wake up at 5am for yoga class or plan a 2-3 hour run on a weekend morning. It wasn’t always this way though. I remember, not so long ago, I couldn’t be bothered to rise before noon on the weekends. The only cardio I got was dancing the night away after downing a truckload of cocktails. How on earth did I get where I am now? The answer: lots of hard work over the span of several years. I ran my first 5k in 2012; while I wouldn’t run my first marathon until years later, I had to start somewhere. It made me a little proud to reflect on the lifestyle changes I’ve made so far, but it also led me to an epiphany of sorts. 

Since roughly December I’ve been in a stalemate; weight is not budging, running times aren’t improving. Nothing seems to be progressing despite what I perceive as boatloads of hard work. Perusing my training logs confirms that I am indeed putting forth tremendous effort. But it’s all on the same activities, the same routines I’ve done for years now. I’ve been grinding away in my little run/dance/yoga comfort zone. While my workouts keep me happy, I can’t ignore the lack of progress.

When I reflect on my diet I see another cycle. A few days of “clean eating” (there’s that hard work again) followed by a couple of, what I like to call, bottomless pit days. It’s like clockwork; the first part of the week I’m determined to get on the right path and inevitably it falls apart days later. I try to keep healthy foods on hand and I enjoy making meals from fresh local ingredients, so I’ve never logged calories. Why bother if I’m making good choices?

I’m left with one major question-why is my hard work not working? Are my goals unrealistic? Possibly. Am I just plain lazy? Surely not. I’m capable of hard work, I’ve proven it to myself before.  As I reflected, I thought back to my conversation with Sally. “You can’t just want something really bad, snap your fingers, and make it happen. If we could do that, we wouldn’t appreciate anything at all..”

I realized the reason I’m stuck in my fitness rut is the same reason I was scared to death about saving money for a down payment. It was uncharted territory, and it was going to be hard-really hard. Was that a reason to give up? Hell no! I pride myself on doing things people think are impossible. It’s fun to test oneself and even more fun to be surprised by what you can accomplish with great effort. Why on earth was I not looking at my homebuying and fitness goals with the same optimism? Fear-of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of disappointment. I’ve been justifying fear with excuses instead of tackling it head on.

Having that said, I’m going to try new things as I focus on saving money for my first home. I’ve started tracking my calories in an app as opposed to just journaling. My hope is that over the long term, I will gain insight into what’s causing my yo-yo patterns and develop more balanced eating behaviors. I also want to take ownership of how I fuel my body. In the short term, this activity will give me accountability-if I don’t log my intake, the app will send me a message to remind me to login.

I’m also going to focus on my running from a strength perspective instead of just logging miles and analyzing the average pace. I began running to enjoy the outdoors and try something new. I’ve stuck with it as much for enjoyment as for my sanity. Instead of getting so caught up in the races and finish times, I’m ready to dedicate time to the journey. Building a stronger foundation i.e. body will help keep me running for years to come. Again this is going to be uncomfortable; speed workouts, hill repeats, lifting heavy things…sweating it out in the gym is NOT what I do; but, if it will strengthen my ability to do something I really love, it’s worth a shot, right?

I’ve realized now that I’ve been trying to make difficult things easy. Choosing the path of least resistance and resting on my accomplishments. In doing so, I’m robbing myself of personal growth. I’m nervous and excited to take this new approach and be a little more honest with myself. I may struggle and have to face some harsh realities but maybe that’s what I need right now?  It took a financial professional to point it out, but I’m ready to get over the hump and get growing 🙂

What’s something that inspires, but also scares the beejeezus out of you? Does it seem impossible, implausible, or unrealistic? Whatever it is, take a moment; embrace all the optimism you can and try to visualize success in that venture. What would it look like? What would it mean to you? Would that feeling of success make all the hard work worth it? Sometimes it’s all a matter of perspective. Building the city of Rome was extremely arduous, but after all it wasn’t done in a day.

I will leave you with a quote from the great Henry Ford  

HebrewDawn: Getting Over the Hump 

Happy humpday dolls!

E

Meet Erica!

The time has finally come for you to meet the new member of the HebrewDawn writing team…

She has a lifelong passion for fitness that began with gymnastics, swimming, diving, and has only grown with age. Erica loves to run, dance, and practice yoga. She is an artist in the kitchen creating meals that are good for you, but still make your mouth water long after the meal is done. To top it all off, she has a passion for teaching, which means she wants to help each of us become the healthiest version of ourselves that’s hiding and waiting to come out. I hope you enjoy getting to know Erica through her writing and learning from her along the way. Enjoy today’s food for thought from our health conscious friend…

HebrewDawn: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: there is a reason LIFE is first!

It’s easy to lower our standards by falling prey to “the best we can get.” Often times, it’s not until we find parallels in the greatness of those around us that we are willing to expect more of ourselves.

Many people are using emergency room services as a means for basic healthcare, subsisting on low cost, highly processed foods, and/or eschewing exercise regimes due to financial limitations. What a shame this is! Not only are we discouraging routine and preventive care, but we are also propagating the idea of health as an exclusive member’s only club. What’s more-this is a total lie. Prioritizing one’s health should and will save money!

What if we change the game? What if we empower EVERYBODY to take ownership of his or her health? Maybe we offer free gym memberships, fitness activities, nutrition counseling, and subsidized local produce for those who can’t afford it?

Do you think this would help people become more proactive? Make them more receptive to change?

I think it starts with making the tools of a positive healthy lifestyle available to all people. Sharing is caring right?

Getting Healthy

Do you take good are of yourself? I mean, do you exercise regularly, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and get enough rest? I’d like to think and say that I take good are of myself, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I could definitely do a better job! Today I want us to talk about being better at this. So what does it look like to take good care of ourselves?

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There are lots of thoughts out there about how we should go about doing this. Some may think it’s following a special diet, doing a certain type of exercise, or joining accountability groups. Much of that will definitely help and be part of that process. Much of it can sound like a lot of work, and not something we want to do. We’ll make excuses because it seeems like there’s a long list of musts, shoulds, and can’t haves and we don’t want to be deprived of the things that we want. I truly believe that this isn’t quite the right approach. We need to get our thoughts focused on being or getting healthy. When we think about doing what’s healthy and good for us, then that is something  we can get on board with doing. We might not want to talk about how we should eat or how much we are going to exercise, but what if we started asking ourselves if what we’re about to do is going to make us the healthiest version of ourselves?

I personally planned to be better about exercise in 2016, and I’ve not been as good as I had hoped. I don’t really want to go for a run, but I do want to be the healthiest version of myself so I can live life to the fullest. So tomorrow is my birthday, and I’m going to use this as my new year to start over. I still plan to exerise more, eat better (less sugary sweets), and other things of that nature. I will not be marking my calendar up with exercise appointments, but I will be writing reminders to myself to make healthy choices. By doing this I’m going to be concerned with being a healthier version of me for today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.

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There are simple steps we can follow after we change our thought process on being healthy:

  1. Start and end each day with a refreshing glass of water. Once you have this habit in place, it’s easier to keep drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  2. Get to sleep at a time that will ensure you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. We may think we can get by on less sleep, but studies show that our bodies NEED that much sleep. When do you need to be up in the morning? Make sure you’re in bed 7 to 9 hours before then, and include some time to wind down too.
  3. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and healthy snacks in between. Skipping meals isn’t good for your metabolism and sets you up for making poor food choices out of starvation.
  4. Find a physical activity you love and do it. There’s no sense making yourself run if it’s something you hate doing, but there’s also no reason to deprive yourself from going to yoga if that brings you joy.

Getting yourself to the point of being healthy doens’t have to be complicated, but it does involve choosing to be healthy. What would your life look like if you did this?

So, how are you ready to get healthy with me? I’m planning to share about my successes and failures, but no matter what I’ll be taking care of myself . I’m no expert on this topic, but I am a woman trying and encouraging you to join me.