Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Wellness

Great post here on Winter Wellness. For those of you that feel a cold coming on or a case of the winter blues.

Last week I had a cold during my busiest work week of the winter (never fails, right?) On Friday I'm pleased to report that I made it to the gym for the first time in forever, went again on Sunday and also I made it out ice skating. Here's hoping I remain healthy during February to get back on track!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Spreading the wrong information

Now I know you can't believe everything you read online. However, when a blog writer suggests that a disease like Chron's Disease (an auto immune disease similar to MS) is preventable by eating better and living healthy I am utterly shocked. You don't tell someone with MS or Chron's that they just need to eat better and it will go away or never happen at all.

There are no known food triggers to Chron's. You can't just eat and exercise away your MS.  I know the below article does not mention MS, but many of the meds are the same to treat both diseases. To even suggest that someone can live a healthy lifestyle and PREVENT an auto immune disease is just so aggravating. This is an issue close to home for me since my husband has been living with Chron's for over 10 years and my cousin has MS.

I responded to the article here


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kids outside?

I made an observation while skiing this past weekend. It was a beautiful winter day (in fact everyone on the trails that I skied by said "Nice day, huh?" There was not a single teen or child on the trails with the adults. This was weird to me. I started x-country skiing when I was 4. I always went with my parents when they strapped on their skis.

Perhaps the kids were:
-Doing gymnastics
-Playing indoor soccer
-at a friend's house while the parents excercised

Most likely the kids were hiding indoors. A coworker recently told me her youngest son *hates* going outside to play in the snow. This has been the perfect winter for snow forts, snow tunnels, and massive quantities of sledding.

Check out the snow fall totals in Boston proper (that's a fun interactive graph for you). There's even a story here about 'nature deficit' disorder. The fact that there's a club where parents drop the kids off to play in the woods amuses me. And it charges $$ to do this 'drop off to play' behavior.

What do you think about this? Do parents really need to drop cash to have their kids enjoy the outdoors?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I don't really know how to phrase this...

Sometimes I can't help but get defensive in regards to product loyalty. I know a few women who sell various products  (good reputable brands) that tend to act brainwashed. I don't know how else to describe it or how to put it in a non-offending manner. For example, I love using products by Aveda, Lush, and Origins that are mostly made up of natural products. Origins in particular has served me quite well. In fact, part of the reason I believe I still get carded at 34 is 1. good genetics; and 2. Origins products. I wear a face moisturizer with SPF 15 in it each day. I have done this for pretty much my entire adult life thus far.

I only encounter people like this...let's say Super Saleswoman (SS for short) once in a while. They honestly believe that their product is superior. I can say something such as: "Lush is natural and only lasts a few months because often it contains only natural products (like my scrub that is basically sea salt and vodka)." Or "The Body Shop is doing a great job with fair trade products." The response from the SS types is always the same. "It's all marketing hype." or "Don't believe everything you read." or "Fair trade does not mean that all of the ingredients are well monitored for quality control."

Have any of you had this issue? I know longer go to 'seminars' or 'lunch and learns' for products sold by the SS types. I know their career choice is working out well for their lifestyles. I just really get all uncomfortable when the brain washing just becomes so obvious. I LOVE my brands. I'm obsessed with my brands. I really enjoy the Aveda spa I go to. I just have to stop talking about it (as I did this morning) because no matter what I say to the SS types they are always "my products are the best and that's that."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Weekend

This weekend was great snow quality for all sorts of outdoor activities:

This is a shot of the trails at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in South Natick. You can even go by one of the tributaries of the Charles River. I was out there nearly 2 hours on Saturday. Yesterday we went out snowshoeing with my in-laws for the first time in years.

I know it's below zero today in New England, but the best way to avoid cabin fever is to go out and have some fun. Bundle up...but there's a lot of nice people on the trails.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quote for today

"The rational system thinks that happiness would be losing 15 pounds and looking good in a swimsuit. But the emotional system thinks that happiness would be plowing through an entire bag of Nacho-Cheese Doritos. For most people, the emotional system tends to win these debates because it’s incredibly powerful. The psychologist Jon Haidt has a great analogy: He says that the emotional system is like an elephant, and on its back is a human-scale rider that represents the rational system. The rider thinks he’s the one in charge, but c’mon. If the two ever disagree, who’s your money on? So if you want your rational system to win out, you’ve got to avoid a direct tug-of-war with the elephant. Don’t bet on willpower. If you’re on a diet, don’t assume that your self-control will keep you from raiding the ice cream. That’s foolish. Just throw out the ice cream."

-Dan Heath (co-author of 'Made to Stick')

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thoughts on Birthdays

I started using this little app called MyFitnessPal (free on iTunes) the day before my Birthday. During grad school (4 years leading up to 2009) I started up a slippery slope. I was working full time and working on my MBA at night. During that time I got a lot of "what are you crazy?" from other folks in the business world. I did not want to get in debt deep by not working during school. Anyway, back to my challenge.

I always heard that in your 30s it's harder to stay in shape, loose weight, and just stay on track. In my early 20s I did not weigh enough to donate blood (I was 110, you needed to be 112). I knew I was too thin back then. I started to take Karate in my 20s but then my instructor moved to Florida as soon as I reached Orange belt status. I began Tai Chi but then my gym closed and my instructor is now making burritos at Whole Foods to support his 3 kids (true story). For the past year I've been taking Centergy. This class has been amazing. I remember when I made it to the end of my first class I sat there and just cried. It was the ass-kicking (followed by meditation) that I'd been looking for. It was the instructor that I've missed since my former Karate and Tai Chi masters. Someone who is supportive and a class where everyone applauds at the end.

Centergy is an essential part of my workout routine now. I can't imagine life without it. Days I miss it (like yesterday due to snow) I feel like something is missing. So now, I'm on the Dark Side of 30. I love my 30s. Really. But just as everyone warned me, I've packed on additional weight and it all started with bad habits during grad school (snacking, mostly, and missing workouts). So for the first time ever I'm using an app to track my nutrition (I love how the app tracks nutrients) and my workouts. My battery in my Polar Heart Rate monitor is dead and I realize now that's what I've been missing in the past year. It helps you not to over train. When you over train you store fat.

Here's a photo of me from graduation last year...time to move on and get back on track. Sometimes Birthdays do that to you. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Complete Me

I heart homemade Valentines. Does anyone make homemade Valentines anymore?

Here's one that I really love (found on Etsy here)

New Book: 'My Life in 23 Yoga Poses'

Today's Downtown Women's Club blog post led me to check out this new book by Claire Dederer.

I investigated further on Amazon and liked the first review:

"The thing I liked best about "Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses" is that Claire Dederer explains a lot about yoga without making it sound like some type of mysterious cult type pursuit. I was drawn to the book because I've been thinking for years about attending some yoga classes but somehow never seem to get around to it. Is it exercise? Is it a religion? A little bit of both? The author discusses these very questions throughout the book. Her sense of humor and sometimes irreverent remarks had me laughing, but at the same time understanding just what draws so many people into the yoga experience. Her book is as much a book about life as it is about yoga."

Although I do not take a straight yoga class (I take this wonderful class that kicks my butt called Centergy) I appreciate yoga. Centergy is made up of yoga and pilates rolled into one and set to an amazing soundtrack. I had one yoga class that I loved. It was taught by this lovely woman named Rose. It was taught in 2002 at Mass Bay Community College. Rose was the only yoga teacher I've ever had. She was well into her 60s at the time and looked amazing. To this day I tell myself "that's what you'll look like in your 60s if you keep taking Centergy or if you pick up Tai Chi again!"

Do you do yoga or some variation of yoga? Do you do Tai Chi (lovelovelove, but my new gym does not teach it). My Centergy instructor put it best the other night at the end of class (which ends with a round of applause each night) "I feel 1000% better." I agree. 1000%.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The KISS Method

There's some good ideas in this post regarding keeping things simple.

They are:

"Know your values and make good decisions based off them."

For me, it's balance. I really take pride in not letting my day job take over my life. I've been at jobs before where you are at the office until 9:30 at night and you can't go to the gym, out with friends, spend time with your spouse etc. Never again!

"Make space by decluttering"

So true. Yesterday I finally cleaned up some piles in my office and put them in bins. These piles have been there since I started in April 2010. They belonged to the guy that had the office before me. I even labeled the bins. Now I'm happy to spend time in my office.

"Find a mentor"

I have been a mentor at the Center for Women's Leadership at Babson for a while now. I love it and I'm so proud of my mentee (she's graduating this year!) It's really an amazing opportunity and I'm excited to be a part of the program.  

"Sit in silence. Ponder quietly. Just be with yourself"

Great advice. I often encounter folks that complain of how bored they are at home. I've never been bored at home and I'm looking forward to a day off from work tomorrow just to enjoy being snowed in! For anyone that has ever said "I'm bored!" pick up a book, a craft, a new recipe. Give yourself a fun project. Or not. Just sit there and stare out the window (not at your neighbors). :)

So excited about the storm

Am I the only New Englander that LOVES snow?

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's on your Amazon Wish List?

I love my Amazon Wish List. I add things to it from other sites (Etsy, Modcloth) as well. I often add things to remind myself of an artist/author/style that I enjoy (or read about). All of the things are items I would gladly take as a gift (hint hint my b'day is 1/18). Most of them I will never purchase. Some of them I'll purchase with my spare change (Coinstar, I love your 0 processing fees when used for Amazon!).

So what is on your Amazon Wish List?

I'll give you a sample of a few things on mine:

(went to a Slow Food Boston event, added this after hearing the top bean expert in the world speak).

(Because honestly who does not love a red purse, below...tea for one by Bodum)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekend Blogroll

Here's some blogs that I think are really well designed, fun, and informative. I enjoy blogs with good comments, feedback, and just an overall good vibe. I really appreciate blogs where the owner gets right back to you with feedback or an answer to a question. :)

Effortless Anthropologie
-All things Anthropologie. Allows you to sell your Anthro clothes or to post when you're looking to buy something in particular. I really enjoyed a recent post with the discussion about Urban Outfitters possibly buying JCrew.

Daily Garnish
-Cooking, health, fitness, adventures, marriage, travel, dogs...
(photo credit: Daily Garnish)

House of Turquoise
-Design. All things blue.

(photo credit: House of Turquoise)


I know there's webcams all over the world where you can look at things that interest you.

I checked out this one that came in the Icelandic Tourist Board's newsletter. I really wish all e-newsletters were like this one. It's always informative and sometimes even humorous. Since it is winter a much of the focus was on things like the Blue Lagoon. Now I've only had dinner there but it's a pretty neat place. The spa experience there sounds like something you will not get anywhere else. A floating massage? Interesting...

I am treating myself to the spa for my birthday. I normally do not get pedicures in nice spas because the pedicure with the hot stones for under $30 always does the trick at a place in my town. I'm going to the Aveda spa/salon in Bedford (where I get my eyebrows done--love that place). That should be nice because I always like my feet to look good in Centergy class. Anytime you have to show your feet in public (for me 2-3 times per week) you can't have them looking gross.

Do you have a favorite spa or spa service? Is there a webcam that you have bookmarked that you enjoy looking at (I mean something more exciting than the Cape Cod Canal one)?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vacation Planning

Yes, I'm aware that it is only January 6. I'm pleased to report that I booked my vacation for September. I will hold out for a sale on the flights but I was able to save 50% on many of the hotel nights by booking prior to January 14. I also did not have to put any $ down on the hotels, so it's a nice (free) type of planning.

The current plan is to go to Iceland September 3-13. Yes, it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and I will not be in America. September is going to be a busy month for us. We have two weddings to attend that we are very excited about (!). We also decided to go back to Iceland in September Vs October for our wedding anniversary. After September 21 a lot of hotels and attractions are closed and...there's a HUGE amount of snow in the northern sections. We just did not want to risk a repeat of what occurred last time we went. It's something we can joke about now, but at the time it was pretty scary (freak snowstorm, getting the rental car stuck in the snow many kilometers from anywhere...)

Fall vacations are my favorite. It's cheaper to fly and you can get into any restaurant of your choice. Nantucket and Napa/Sonoma are both amazing destinations in the fall. September is still technically summer and in Iceland there's actual night time (compared to the summer there when it's the Land of the Midnight Sun).

Here's where I booked for those of you that are curious:
1. Fosshotel Baron. We love this one. We've stayed there twice before and you can get a flybus there from the airport.
2. Fosshotel Skaftafell (south Iceland)
3. Hotel Höfðabrekka (near the black sand beaches in Vik)
4. Fosshotel Vatnajokull (anything with the word jokull in it is good because you know there's a glacier there).

Fosshotel Baron in particular was a great deal because it came to 90 EUR or around $120 US per night. That's cheaper than NYC, Pittsburg, and Philly...count me in. :)

Keeping Your Cool

There's an interesting list list today on The Happiness Project about keeping your cool. I know keeping a level head during the work day can be challenging. There's company politics, company culture, and a wide array of personality types that are factors. You have to learn how to play nice in the sandbox.

I know that there's a theory that within a corporation there are people who are subconsciously trying to re-create their family or their childhood within the walls of the workplace. When I watch The Office I can't help but think: "Oh my goodness, that's something that would totally happen at work." The Michael Scotts of the world think that the people in the office are family. At my place of employment this is part of the company--you really are made to feel like you are part of a family unit. Not everyone likes that, but it works for me. Maybe that's why there's so many people here that actually cook at work. They are jumping into the parental role and caring for the 'family'.

One thing I have not done in a while (that helps me keep my cool during the work day) is walk during lunch. Once winter hit it was not something on my list of daily activities. Our CFO (my walking buddy) is back from maternity leave now so there's really no excuse. Summer was easy because I would just throw a pair of slip on Sketchers in my bag. Now, it's like---what do you wear to walk when there's rock salt and snow everywhere? I'm thinking of taking my cross country skis to work (there's a nature preserve in my office park--so that might be kinda neat).

How do you keep your cool? Does counting to 10 really work?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Working Parents

Interesting points here:

Are Working Parents Wusses?

Now I'm not a parent. I grew up in a house where after school care was normal (my Mom was a teacher but we went to daycare while were kids. And preschool). When we were older we would entertain ourselves after school (by watching 'Duck Tales' and 'Adams Family' repeats or we would play outside until dinner).

Recently at work we were pondering how we survived cribs that are now considered 'unsafe'. And not wearing helmets while riding our bikes around the neighborhood. Not all of us wore seat belts. Many of us got lung-fulls of second hand smoke (not me, but I'm thinking about other kids I grew up with). We played lots of video games and did not get morbidly obese doing so.

Did our parents really have it easier? There were no cell phones or e-mail. No one used Nanny cams or webcams to watch their kids. No one used apps to 'track' where there kids were after school (I know some parents that do this...they lowjack their children). Maybe in the 1980s we had all of the technology we needed. Certainly parents in the 1980s were less neurotic. In the 1980s no one I knew brought their work on vacation.

Although I don't think working parents are wusses I think a lot of the stress is self-created. It's easy to work yourself into a tizzy with all of the negative media out there about everything from kid's toys to childhood obesity.

Famous People Have Frayed Pant Bottoms Too

Last night I went to my first Celebrity Book Club. This is held at Newtonville Books once per month and is run by a local celeb. I decided to go this month because I really enjoy Steve Almond's books. He wrote one of my favorites 'Candyfreak' and also 'Which Brings me to You' (this one is about a couple that met hooking up in a coat closet during a wedding and decided to get to know each other the old fashioned way--through letters).

The way we ended up arranging the chairs put me 1 chair away from Mr. Almond. This gave me time to observe random things. I could not help but think, wow...he just looks like a random guy in a hoodie with frayed bottoms to his pants just like any other human. There was something about him though. To me he had that 'writer look' and he also used big words when he spoke (if I was not sitting so close I would have jotted them down to look them up later). He did not use big words to show off, he's just someone that really LOVES to read.

The book we discussed is one of his favorites. Almond explained he read's 'Stoner' (by John Williams) several times per year. He admits he picked it up during college thinking it was a book about drugs and totally fell in love with it. He pretty much salivated over one of the book club participants holding up an original pre-print copy from 1965 (it was a BC professor that did a review on the book back in the day).

'Stoner' is worth a look. It's so beautifully written. The funny thing is that I did not really think all that highly of the book until around 1 hour into our discussion last night. Taking a second look and hearing what a room full of people thought helped re-shape my opinion of the book. It also made a difference in the way I perceive Almond himself. I always thought of him as an amusing guy that lives in the People's Republic of Cambridge that really enjoyed candy. I've met many authors over the years at book signings, library events, and Books and Brews at Newtonville Books. Something about sitting down for nearly 2 hours with an author I like was really something that stands out from the other book-related events.

Famous people (the smart ones) really are just like us. They put their frayed-end pants on one leg at a time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sustainable Marriage

Think Simple Now's creator Tina Su posted this article today on sustainable marriage. It really made me think about my own marriage and combining and developing interests/hobbies. 2011 marks a mid-point for my own relationship. In October we will have been together for 17 years. We were 17 when we first started dating. My husband pointed out the other day that since 17 "we've lived a whole other lifetime."

Summary of the Reverb10 Excercise

Although I did not participate in every single Reverb10 post I really enjoyed the process. I was e-mailed a Reverb each day and many of them I actually posted on.

Here's two of them:

Dec 22
Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

During 2010 there was some stand-out travel. We went on a budget-friendly vacation and camped in Canada for 10 days (ok, one night at an Inn when we decided we needed a shower without quarters to feed in). It was our first time going to Canada from the Maine house and it turned out there's a lovely little seaside town (St. Andrews by-the-sea) just 3 hours, 15 minutes away including border crossings. I've never camped on the beach before and that was pretty amazing. Still have red sand from PEI in various hiking boots I think.

  • Work trips: lots of work trips took me back to places I have not been in a while (Philly, NYC). I also got to eat at some pretty fabulous restaurants (shout out to Gordon Ramsey at The London).
  • Florida: well we were hoping to see the shuttle launch and spent 2x what we were planning on after 3 flight changes and extra hotel nights. This trip could have been better (both T and I really could not take a vacation that was 2x longer than planned). Kinda funny to go to Walmart and buy clothes because you find yourself in Florida a few extra days. Highlights of this trip including going to a beach of Tyler's childhood and looking for shark's teeth, going to an old school tiki bar (on a dock where the food is cooked in a truck), and seeing 6 different family members in 1 day (including the grandparents in assisted living). Oh and the Villa for $60/night (thank you was pretty incredible. :)
  • Next year: back to Iceland! We have not been since 2007. Must go. The pull is too strong to ignore. (it gets into your soul if you've ever been).
  • California in March for work (get to see an old family friend too). LA. :)
We'll see where else we end up. Of course there will be lots of time in Maine with the rental to manage.

Dec 20
Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
Photography! Other than my AMAZING Canada trip I really did not take any memorable photos this year and I did not take part in a single photo shoot with my photo club.

I used my distraction and lack of creative juices as an excuse.

Starting with the holiday party on the 30th I'm getting back into the mix.

That along with x-country skiing are my two resolutions for 2011.

Photo Swap

2010 closed with an annual party with the photo club that I'm a part of (The Worcester Photography MeetUp Group). It was my 2nd year attending and it was a very fun evening. My favorite part is the print swap. This is where you bring one of your original photographs matted (or framed and matted) and gift wrapped. You put your name in and when one of the group leaders pulls your name you randomly select a wrapped print from the pile.

The print I selected was beautifully matted and framed. It was shot by one of the guys working on the fireworks for New Year's Eve in Time's Square. He took the shot from the top of a Federally controlled building rooftop (where the ball drops). The shot was taken at night and it was taken a few days before the party. It now hangs in my kitchen. It looks out of sorts next to my 1950s/1960s wallpaper. Perhaps I need to get rid of that wallpaper and paint to bring the kitchen more up to date. I know the last time we took wallpaper down it was a weekend-long project because the wallpaper was not done correctly.

I look forward to doing more with my photo group in 2011. There's talk of a group exhibit at the town hall in Worcester. That would be pretty fun!

Oh, and the image I gave to the swap? A close-up of some tomato plant blossoms. I wanted to give something summery as we were a few days post-blizzard.