Rockin’ Jeans and The Great Fitness Experiment

Welcome to the second full week of May, folks. Hope all of you are well.

Poor hubby should be in recovery by now. The anniversary/wife’s birthday/Mother’s Day annual event is over again. Every year the poor guy gets slammed.

Back to business: I subscribe to more blogs than I can keep up with, but I do try to hit on each every now and again. This one absolutely made my day. It proved I’m not out of my mind—okay, maybe just a touch less than I thought.

I always enjoy posts by Charlotte Hilton Anderson, author of The Great Fitness Experiment (book and blog that go by the same name). I’m sure she is far fitter and way more fitness-savvy than I’ll ever be, but she also tends to be very real. A post she aired about two weeks ago caught my attention big time.

She talked about jeans, about how hard it is for those who work really hard at building and sculpting their thighs to buy jeans that fit them well and comfortably. Believe it or not, those with “musciliscious” thighs (which I’ll never have), experience problems with jeans very similar to those of us blessed with “ample” body parts and the so-called-healthy pear shape. Gapping waistline, “sausage legs” when fabric hugs thighs too tightly—those of us who love jeans know how elusive that perfect-fitting pair is to find.

She also mentioned a company named Barbell Apparel that is getting ready to launch a line of jeans that fit well-muscled folks. I figure, said company can only benefit the well-endowed crowd. (Here’s a Washington Post article that shares a tad more detailed, for those who are as excited about this as I am.)

Getting back to my questionable sanity, Charlotte helped me feel a lot better. I’ve recently gotten into some barre workouts. (Some related posts, including a link to my favorite video of same, are listed below.)

In the past month, since I added the barre workout(s), I’ve been feeling really good physically. As I commented on Charlotte’s post, however, I’ve also been noticing that my never-will-be-musciliscious-thighs seem to be growing despite the exercise efforts I’m putting in.

Perhaps they are, for once, maybe for the right reasons. Who knows for sure?

My weight has held now for about five years. Yes, it’s more than I want but still a good 25 pounds better than when I started making lifestyle changes.  The evening before I wrote this post, I nervously put on a pair of pants that had been sitting in a bag for two years—one of those pairs I had hoped to “get into” after losing 5-10 pounds.

I’ll be danged if I didn’t do just that–with my weight still where it was when I bought them, I’m pretty sure.

Joanna--04-26-2014 (Of course real estate between the waist and the knees is undercover–it’s all about illusion, right? ;) )

Anyway, this is a big thanks to Charlotte for helping me realize that I’m not totally crazy—and for inspiring me to try on those pants. BTW, a pair of black jeans that fit awesome were in that bag too. Those just got hemmed at the tailors! Yay for jeans that fit well!

Rather than drag this one out, next week I’ll talk about Italian mothers and how they influence one’s self-esteem so well, lol.

So, where do you stand on this topic? Do you like jeans? Does fitness make you feel good or frustrate you? Did you ever consider that fitness had drawbacks?

Here are the links I mentioned above:

Sometimes It’s About the Littlest Things

Can One Book Change Your Life?

Healthy Snacks? I’m Thinking Not–Part 1

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result In Inspiration!

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result in Inspiration! (Part 2)

My (current) favorite ballet barre workout :)

Have a great week folks! Please don’t hesitate to SHARE should you like the content or feel moved to do so in any way!

Until next time,

Joanna

 

 

Sometimes, It’s About the Littlest Things

Hi all,

I’m running a little late with posting, this week. That’s what happens when school is closed for spring break. I start cleaning and lose sight of almost everything else. (This coming from the girl who always gave her mother grief for using vacation time to clean. Help! Does this mean I’m becoming my mother???)

Here’s the latest I tried from Jessica Smith TV. What I’m liking about her routines—and the ballet barre workout I referred to in my last post—is feeling supercharged when I’m done, with a willingness to keep going. The energy seems to have translated to the tennis court, too! I ran down so many shots and didn’t feel tired at all after 90 minutes out there—double what I could do last fall.  (Oh, the hours I spent on the courts in my mid-late 20s. Still feeling that kind of joy when I’m swinging a racquet.)

A couple of days ago, online friend and fellow blogger Carrie Rubin brought up an interesting question about twinges of regret about life choices we might have made. Read her post here. (Psst! Carrie’s posts are always worth the read.)

Anyway, she got me thinking. Of course, my thoughts meandered in other directions—and I didn’t want to be a copy-cat. I landed on seemingly little things that wind up being life-changing.

Now, I’m not talking insanely dramatic life situations. For me, a YouTube video and a piece of tape wound up impacting the day-to-day.

This connects to the fitness videos I mentioned these past two posts. Around this time last year, I decided to give zumba a whirl. I’d taken a class; wasn’t thrilled with the instructor. Being someone who has a hard time following steps, I figured I could start and pause a video as needed and work at my own pace.

Long story short, I felt something not move correctly in my left hip. No pain. At least not until a month or so later, when I couldn’t tell which came first, the pain in the hip or that in the knee. I was also an avid user of rocker-bottom sneakers (i.e., Shape-Ups)—they never, ever bothered me prior. (I’ve given them up but still miss them. It’s okay.)

By June last year, I had enough of a problem to interfere with my lifestyle. That included walking. (I was afraid to attempt tennis.) Sitting certain ways and getting up off the floor after working with my school kids had become a major issue. I broke down and went to see an orthopedist. He offered a knee brace, ibuprofen and physical therapy.

Immediately called a former co-worker. She’s not only the most amazing physical therapist I know, she’s become my “sister-from-another-mother.” She told me the brace  would align my patella (a.k.a kneecap) exactly the way athletic taping would, minus the bulk. Went to her house that same night. Came home taped and taught how to do it myself. She also showed me a few key exercises, but I’d be lying if I told you those were the magic.

A piece of athletic tape applied once or twice a week since then has altered my day-to-day for the best. Within a week, most of the pain subsided. (I’d say I was 95% improved, and with minimal medicine too.) I even took my chances on the tennis court right around then, and came back happier than I’d been in months. The barre workout appears to have handled the rest of the discomfort. My hip is feeling 99% improved since TWO days after starting that. Go figure.

So, reader-friends, I turn over the blog-mike to you. What seemingly little choice or change did you make that significantly impacted your day-to-day, or your life on the bigger scale, if that’s appropriate?

Best wishes for a Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all those who celebrate!

And special thanks to Carrie for inspiring me this week.  :)

Cheers,

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilson, Our Real-Life Neighbor

Hi all,

Hope you all enjoyed a less rainy and gloomy weekend than those of us on the east coast did, but in the end, it’s all good, right?

Just a little shout-out here for a couple of YouTube workouts I’ve been thoroughly enjoying as of two weeks ago. Have a friend who swears by her ballet barre workouts. Being a non-gym kind of girl, and in definite need of a shake-up to my exercise and walking routine, I looked barre workouts up.

Came across two I really liked:

Jessica Smith’s Ballet Barre Workout (no barre really necessary, unless balance is a major issue) and BarreConcept’s Ultimate 20 Minute Barre Exercise Workout. (The latter instructor has an English accent and a voice that takes a bit of getting used to, but she’s in my head now, lol. Plus, the workout is short and even a bit addictive. Besides, the second woman from the left is me, right?) I am most pleased with having been able to do most of both workouts the first time, and that none of the moves are overly complex. Yep. Even I can follow them.  PLEASE NOTE: Don’t forget to consult your physician prior to beginning any workouts, especially if you have health concerns of any kind.

Other than that—and having nothing in particular to share this week—figured I’d tell you about our family’s real-life Wilson. (This would be the friend that dramatically called across the lawn when hubby had me believing he’d bought that Harley. That story posted two weeks ago. If you like, read it here.)

Wilson’s legal name is so not Wilson. Long story short, he and his family moved in next door when I was pregnant with my younger son. We had a pool then, and a wooden stockade privacy fence.

Yep, every day, our new neighbor peeked over the fence, much like Tim-the-Tool-Man’s neighbor Wilson did in the TV family-comedy series, Home Improvement. I started calling him Wilson. The name also served us all well, as it created a distinction between hubby and the guy next door, who just happen to share the same name.

Wilson and his family moved at least ten years ago. He and hubby remain close buds.

The name stuck. Most people who meet (or have met) Wilson through us have no idea that is NOT his first or last name, lol. And my boys? To this day, they call him Mr. Wilson (not to be confused, however, with the Mr. Wilson of Dennis the Menace fame).

So y’all confused enough? Have you ever named someone in your life after a TV character? If you were to do so, who would you pick?

Okay, we be done for today. Please share if you feel inclined to do so. Anybody try his/her hand at the cookie bar recipe I posted last week? If so, how did they turn out?

Be well and have a wonderful week,

Joanna

 

Fast Forward to Managing Holiday Stress!

Hi all,

Hope all is well with everyone! If I don’t get these posts into place the weekend before, life on the day-to-day gets so busy-nutty, I can’t make the time to catch up! Just last night, hubby-the-hero-not-a-plumber-but-gets-the-job-done (and I, the assistant) wound up making an  unscheduled trip to my mom’s to do an unexpected faucet installation. And seems every night something else is going on. It is what it is, right? (Though I offer no complaints. There are those in serious and dire situations. I am inconvenienced.)

But, that does tie nicely into…

Wow. As a kid there was no way I could understand why adults found the holiday season so stressful.  Christmas is only a small part of the pressure-I’m-feeling deal; all credit, too, to my younger son (14 y/o) who loves the decorating (inside and out), tree-trimming and gift-wrapping enough to take over most of it! Hubby handled lights inside so the place has a loverly glow in the evenings. They’ve done a phenomenal job and taken a lot of the work load off of me! Thanks, men!

IMGP2101

I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.

I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.

This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, "Santa's Footprints." It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, “Santa’s Footprints.” It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

Back to the original reason for this post! I’m sharing my dear friend Diane Lang’s article on handling the holiday season in a more peaceful, positive way. Here is the link to her most recent article! If it speaks to you, please feel free to share and possibly come back here to share your thoughts on her timely tips!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Joanna

Retrain the Brain for Success in 2013!

Yep. Hate to admit it, but a new year lurks around the corner, friends. Thanks for being patient with me lately. Ever since Superstorm Sandy made her way up the east coast I can’t seem to get it together. (I’m also working on an extended post that connects to it, but that seems to have loomed as large as the storm that inspired (?) it. 

So what does a blogger do in the meantime? Lean on the help of friends, thank you very much. Here is  the latest from therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang–and exactly what this blogger needed :)! I so thank her for the today’s tips and now turn the blog over to Diane…

      

Before we know it the holidays will be in full swing and another new year will be on the horizon.  Now is the time to start reflecting on the past year (not dwelling – there is a difference) and looking forward to a new year.  As we set goals and resolutions start preparing now for success in 2013 (and still for 2012!), here are nine tips to retrain your brain for success:  

1. Thoughts produce actions. Change your actions/behaviors by changing how you think. Be self-aware of your negativity. Once you are aware, you can make changes.

2. Know your triggers. What locations or people cause you stress? Once you figure out your triggers, you can set up boundaries and limitations.

3. Make positive affirmations a daily habit. Start every day with a positive thought. For example: I’m healing from an illness so I wake up daily saying, “I’m healthy and happy!” or “I’m feeling better each day.”

4. Listen to yourself talk.  Remove words such as: I can’tI won’tI shouldn’tI don’t wantcould,wouldmaybe, etc. Use new POSITIVE words: I chooseI canI wantI amit’s my choiceI’m free to, etc.

5. Emotional detox. Remove the toxic people from your life. Moods and emotions are contagious so you want to surround yourself with positive people. If you’re surrounded by toxic people, they can drain you and bring you down.

6. Change the things you can control.  When making changes work on things you CAN control; if you constantly work on things you can’t control, you will be setting yourself up for failure. You will feel frustrated and stressed. Work on what you CAN.

7. Clear your emotional debt.  What old thoughts or habits are you holding onto? What need is it fitting? What new thought could you replace it with? What are you afraid of?

8. Visualize the change.  What does your life look like with the new changes and thoughts? How do you act differently? How do you feel? How has your environment or people change? Visualize you with the new habits/thoughts. If you can see it, you can get there!

9. Stick with it!  Be patient, kind and gentle with yourself. Change is a process that takes time and work.

As always, Diane’s thoughts and tips are right on time and I’m always grateful to have them to share with all of you! Please feel free to contact her at her website, and please consider adding one of her books to your gift-list for that special person who–like me–might need to slow down!

Have a great day and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Joanna

SAD–Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 2)

Welcome to Thursday, friends and followers. For those whose kids brought home pillowcases full of Halloween candy, good luck on dealing with having it in the house, lol! If you’re stuck with leftover candy and/or acquired way-too-much to keep, you may want to consider looking into local programs that ship candy to our military personnel overseas. Sometimes what appear to be the smallest acts of kindness can bring joy to folks under a totally different type of stress–and who doesn’t love a care package?

   

Back to today’s topic! Last time, my dear friend Diane Lang discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder and some of its apparently known causes. (Here’s the link to Part 1–please remember to come back!)

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder – 10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Blues 

There are treatment options for SAD so you can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days.  Here are some tips to help prevent the winter blues:

1. Get as much light as you can even when you’re indoors. Open Tahoe shades, roll up the curtains, move your desk near the windows, etc.

2. Spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. After a few days of spending some time outdoors, you will start feeling a little better.

3. Add exercise into your daily routine. Exercise, even just walking, produces endorphins and reduces stress hormones at the same time so you get a boost of happiness.

4. Make sure to add some fun into your life. Even though the weather keeps us homebound, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Instead of feeling trapped inside, find ways to engage in things you love.

5. Be social even in the winter months. Adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need.

6. Take a vacation. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.

7. Try “Light Therapy.” We know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of SAD. There are certain lights you can buy called “Light Therapy Box” which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits.

8. See a counselor before winter starts. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help.

9. Medications - Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.

10. Psychotherapy (i.e., counseling) is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.

What I love about Diane’s tips is how practical each is–and most at little to no damage to one’s wallet or purse. #3 is probably my saving grace. Exercise–especially walking and/or dancing to my favorite tracts–keeps me upbeat. The endorphins–i.e., feel-good hormones–released when one exercises regularly are for real. And feeling good about how I look just bumps up my mood and outlook that much  more!

As always, special thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and ideas! And to you of course, for stopping by and adding to the possibilities via sharing what has worked for you. And if you please, won’t you take a moment click one of the SHARE buttons?

Take care all!

Joanna

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 1)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope all is well in your respective worlds. (Somehow, I’m getting by without tennis but that might be a good thing, lol.)

So: Fall is in full swing and the chill is upon us! If there were one season I could skip, it would be winter. Don’t hate it but I don’t look forward to it.

         

Summary:  As the cold weather approaches, therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, explains what Seasonal Affective Disorder is, symptoms of it, and 10 tips to prevent the winter blues so we can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days. 

It’s almost that time of year again — cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight.

For parents, winter is a tough time — finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter.

On top of that some parents (and non parents) have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression isseasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are havingseasonal affective disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.

2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.

3.  The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.

4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.

5. Social withdrawal – loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. I know a few clients who “hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months, they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities – they start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.

The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is still unknown, but we know environmental factors plays a role. I have a client who lives in upstate New York near a lake and gets “the lake effect” where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter. This client has had SAD at the same time every year since his move to upstate New York.  We also know that SAD can run in the family – genetics plays a role. SAD is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.

Think we’ll stop here for today, class. Thursday I’ll post Diane’s 10 Tips to prevent the winter doldrums. I know I start counting the days until spring beginning with the winter solstice! 

Have a great day!

Joanna

Ten Tips To Sweep Out Stress–Declutter Your Life

Hi everyone,

So sorry I’ve been MIA these past two weeks–keeping up with added running around on my to-do list and not all of it mine, lol. Hopefully, life will return to normal sooner than later.

Lucky for me I’ve got wonderful friends sending great content this way. Then I get to share with you! Here are Diane Lang’s top ten tips for minimizing stress. (Thanks, Diane!)

BIO: Diane Lang – Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living. Lang offers expertise in multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs.  In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Centenary College.

     

1. Basic needs – Make sure your basic needs are met. Keep a journal for a week of what you eat, how much sleep you get, did you exercise, etc. At the end of the week you can get a clear picture of what’s going on in your life and what changes you can make.

2. Gratitude – start your day off with gratitude checks – this will help you see things clearly and change your perspective.

3. Can/can’t control – work on what you can control. If we continue to work on things we have no control over, we will always feel frustrated and stressed.

4. Social support – have a support system set up.

5. Self soothe – when things become stressful and you’re feeling out of balance, find ways to calm down by doing activities that soothe you such as a bath, talking a walk, listening to music, etc.

6. Pay it forward – we always feel happier when we help others.

7. Exercise is the one of the best and most natural ways to de-stress. If we walk four times a week for 30 minutes, each time we get the similar results as taking an anti-anxiety drug.

8. Nature instantly calms us – spend more time outdoors.

9. Add variety to your life and spice it up. Every time we try something new we get a boost of happiness – when you’re happy you are less stressed.

10. Enjoy the simple things in life – take the small things you love like a cup of coffee, talking to your friend, reading a book and actually enjoy it. Spend time doing that one activity.

I love how number 10 ties it all together, as every one of these suggestions really is simple and easy to employ. I try really hard to incorporate each one but sometimes fall short with #4 and #9.

Your turn! How do you destress? Any of the above areas you feel a need to work on? Did you get the Halloween candy yet?

Have a great week, friends,

Joanna

Starting Fresh in September!

Welcome to the third week of September–already! Fall is upon us and before you know it…okay, not going there. :D

I am blessed with great friends who pass along great content. This is Diane’ Lang’s most recent addition to her collection of informative, inspiring posts. As always, my thanks! 

   

I always look at September (right after labor day) as a fresh start. We all go back to work, kids go back to school and college starts. It’s the time of year when life can be chaotic. This is the time to remember that your lifestyle = your levels of depression or happiness. How we treat ourselves plays an important role in our moods and our health. Let’s make this September a great start to the new school year.

Here are a few tips/reminder on having a healthy, happy lifestyle:

1. Make sure your basic needs are met: we are more relaxed in the summer. Life is easier going but once we go back into full swing we tend to sleep less, drink more caffeine and eat terrible. If we don’t take care of our basic needs, we will feel stressed and unbalanced. Take inventory the first week by writing down in a journal: what you are eating, how many hours of sleep you’re getting, did you exercise, etc. This will give you an honest indicator of what is really going on in your life and from there you can make changes.

2. Even though the days are getting shorter and its getting cooler out, we still need plenty of sunlight and fresh air. We feel calm when we spend time in nature. Sunlight also lowers our stress hormones and reduces anxiety. We also get Vitamin D from sunlight which is great for our bones and our moods. Get outside and enjoy the cool, crisp fall air. Add some exercise to your outside experience by taking a nature walk, apple picking, pumpkin picking, etc.

3. Boredom – boredom leads to frustration. We should never be bored, there is so much to see and do in this world. If you’re bored, it’s a sign your not living life to the fullest.

4. Professional and personal development – keep growing and learning. If we stop we become stale and stagnate. Stagnation can lead to depression. Make sure that every few months you do something to broaden your horizons. For a lot of us, we can multi-task by taking a professional development class and getting the credit at work or towards our licenses.

5. Take time to enjoy the simple things in life – this gets harder as we get busy but even just sitting down for dinner with the family (without technology) and enjoying a good conversation will give you a boost of happiness.

6. Going back to school and work sometimes leaves us with little time to enjoy activities we love. Make sure to add some” flow” into your life by doing activities that you enjoy so much you forget about time and you’re in the moment.

For more information visit Diane’s website at: www.dlcounseling.com

Diane Lang, MA
Counseling Educator
www.dlcounseling.com

Bananas. Blueberries. Breakfast. Go!

Hi all. Happy upcoming Labor Day weekend! US Open Tennis has me hooked and here’s the recipe I promised earlier this week!

  My Mauer McNabb, revving up for the weekend. 

I may not be the world’s biggest banana fan, but I hate to toss the ones my men don’t want once the little brown spots appear.

Here is a hearty, easy, all natural and healthy breakfast that takes under five mintues to prepare–perfect for a school or work morning and one you can feel REALLY good about serving. Better yet: let the kids make their own whenever they can :))

Mash a ripe medium banana into a cereal bowl. Toss in a handful of blueberries (or fruit of choice) and (1/2 cup) uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal. Add milk, stir, eat.

The banana lends a tremendous amount of sweetness to the milk. (I use organic 1% skim). A little vanilla or even hazelnut creamer works too. Getting used to raw oatmeal takes a time or two, but great once you’re used to the texture. Enjoy!

Joanna

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