Random Things that Drive Me Crazy

Laughter is the best medicine they say, right?  So sometimes I just have to step back and laugh at myself.  And trust me.  I’m a weird one; there’s a lot to laugh at here.

For instance:

  1.  Towel tags cannot show.  Seriously.  When I hang a bath towel up to dry, I don’t want to see the tag.  If it shows, I take the towel down and hang it a different way so the tag won’t show.  Why don’t I just cut the tag off?!
  2. Different colored scrubs can’t be mixed in the closet.  For work, I can wear either wine colored scrubs or white scrubs.  When I hang them in my closet, all the red ones have to be together and all the white ones have to hang together.  It drives me crazy to have a white set of scrubs between 2 pairs of red scrubs or vice versa!  Don’t ask me why…
  3. I can’t stand for my parking permit to be crooked.  It’s just a cardboard thing that hangs from my rearview mirror and gives me access to employee parking in the garage at the hospital and it NEVER stays straight.  I’m adjusting in like every 2 seconds while I’m driving, but I can’t help it.  My sister wants to know why I just don’t take it down.  That would make sense, right?  But no…
  4. Sheets cannot show from under the bedspread once the bed is made.  You know how sometimes the bedspread gets crooked and the sheet will stick out just a bit?  Drives me crazy!  Yes, I’ve actually remade the bed to fix that problem.  The one day that I didn’t, the little piece of sheet sticking out mocked me every time I went into the bedroom!
  5. When there’s one egg left in the carton, where do you put it?  No matter where I set that lone egg, it’s not symmetrical in the carton.  The bigger question is:  why does this drive me so crazy?!
  6. When the express lane is for 10 items or less and someone ahead of me has 11 items…First, why do I count?  Second, why does 1 item over bother me so much?  I mean, it’s not like I’m going to say or do anything.

Okay.  You’re turn!  What random things drive you crazy?  And don’t tell me I’m the only one out there bothered by strange and random things!

P.S.  If you ever come to visit, my only request is that you hang up your towel without the tag showing!

Talk to me:

Seriously, what random things drive you absolutely mad?

 

Tulsa Oilers Arena Challenge

I haven’t been running much lately.  You may remember that I’ve been dealing with hip flexor tendonitis for a while.  And while my hip flexor feels pretty much back to normal, I’m still not back up to my usual running pace or distance.  So I’ve been staying away from races.  I have a hard time not racing a race, and I’m not sure I want to (or should) test a healing hip flexor with speed just yet.

But I’ve been missing races.  I miss running with a group of people and just being around runners.  So when I saw the Tulsa Oilers Arena Challenge pop up, I thought this could be a great way to fuel that need to be with runners but still be easy with the speed.

The challenge is held inside an event arena in downtown Tulsa, the BOK Center.  During hockey season, the Tulsa Oilers play there.  The challenge is roughly 2 miles, according to the event website, with participants running up and down the arena stairs.  It’s something I’ve thought about doing, but this was one race I didn’t want to do alone.

I put the word out to my strength and conditioning gym friends, and we formed a team of 9 people.  While we each ran individually, the finishing time of the top 3 finishers of our team would determine our team time.

We met up sporting our gym T-shirts, ready to tackle the challenge.  Wave 1 started.  I got in the queue for wave 2, feeling that excitement that bubbles up at the start of every race.  I love it!  The horn blasted, and we were off, running the corridors of the BOK center up and around the ramp to reach the upper level, down the stairs to the lower level, back up the stairs to the upper level, and finally to the arena stairs where things really got interesting.  I trotted down my first flight of stairs, turned at the bottom and ran back up the same flight.

No problem, I thought.  I’ve got this.

I trotted down the next flight, ran back up, down the next flight, and back up.  Three or four flights later my quads were cursing at me, and I started to wonder why I ever thought this would be fun.  But I kept going.  Down and back up, down and back up.  That hand rail became quite helpful as time went by and my legs started to get wobbly!

But finally I reached the last of the arena stairs, and all that was left was some easy running and a quick flight of stairs down to the finish line.

And my first Tulsa Oilers Arena Challenge is history!  And it was fun!  Doing something different was fun.  Running as a team was awesome!  Getting to know my gym peeps a little better–priceless.  I can’t wait to do it again!

Talk to me:

What’s a new challenge you’ve taken on lately?

Do you like ice hockey?

 

January New Food Challenge: Beets

So you may remember that one goal I set for myself for 2018 was to try a new food or recipe every month.  Feeling a bit stuck in a rut with my menu, I wanted to branch out and find healthy foods to add in to the mix.  Well, here we are half way through February, and I’m just getting around to writing about my January food adventure.  But better late than never, right?  And at least I did try a new food in January!

This is what I brought home in my shopping bag.  A lot of my Facebook friends guessed what I was trying.  Any thoughts?

If you guessed beets, you’re right!

I can’t say I’ve never had beets.  My mom used to grow them in her garden and pickle them, but I never liked them as a child.  To this day, I’m not big on pickled things.  But I decided to try beets again because they are just so darn healthy.  You can read more about the amazing beet here.

Never having prepared beets myself, I wasn’t sure what to do.   Should I eat them raw or cook them?  How do I cook them?  Google taught me that beets can be eaten raw or cooked and made into salads and other dishes.  I decided to just stick with the beet so I could really taste the flavor.

First, I decided to try them raw.  The tricky thing was trying to peel that sucker!  It kept jumping out of my hand, forcing me to chase it around the kitchen counter.  My hands (and counter) got stained a lovely shade of pink from the beet juice!  But eventually, my vegetable peeler won out and I got that beet peeled and chopped.So here I am about to try raw beets for the first time.  I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten older that I’m a bit of a picky eater and not too adventurous about trying new things, so I wasn’t too sure about this beet.I initially noticed the amazing crunch of a raw beet, like a carrot.  But the taste!  My first thought was, “Holy cow, it tastes like dirt!”  Yeah, growing up in the country, dirt found its way into my mouth a time or two so I do actually know what dirt tastes like!  But the beet wasn’t disgusting; it just had a very earthy flavor.  I tried another bite with a bit of salt.  Definitely better.  And then I tried a suggestion I’d read about:  lemon juice and cayenne pepper.  Not bad!  For just eating a plain, raw beet, the lemon juice and pepper combo was definitely my favorite.

Next, I tried roasting beets.  I was roasting an acorn squash, so I just wrapped a beet in foil and put it in the oven with my squash.  Peeling a roasted beet is MUCH easier than peeling a raw beet!  Rubbing the roasted beet with a paper towel removed the peel easily.  And I have to say, roasted beets taste a lot better to me than raw beets.  The earthy flavor is still there, but it wasn’t as strong.

Discovering that roasted beets aren’t too bad, I decided to throw them in with some other veggies I was roasting, in this case sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions.  I seasoned the lot with a little olive oil, sea salt, and garlic powder.  And again the beets were okay, earthy but tolerable.So the question of the month:  will beets be making a regular appearance in my menu?

I don’t know.  I didn’t HATE them, but I think I’ll need to acquire a taste for them, or maybe find that perfect way to prepare them.  I’ll definitely keep trying them in different ways, maybe try a recipe that uses beets or in a salad.  For the health benefits alone, I’d like to eat beets regularly.

So onward and upward!  It’s February and time to try something new again!  What will it be this time?!

Talk to me:

Beets–yay or nay?

What’s your favorite way to eat beets?  Care to share your favorite beet recipe with me?

 

Am I Having a Mid-Life Crisis?

Do girls get mid-life crises?  It seems like that term is thrown around more often in relation to guys, you know when the sensible 9 to 5 suit wearing dude decides to buy a bright red sports car in his mid forties.  But lately, I’m wondering if I’m having a mid-life crisis.

I’ve debated A LOT about writing this post.  Should I?  Should I not?  Is it too personal?  Well, without a question, what’s on my mind is personal, but then I go back to what the purpose of this blog is:  documenting my quest to life a healthy life in mind, body and soul.

So 2 years into this blogging adventure, I’ve written a lot about how I stay physically healthy, not so much about health in other areas.   And I’m sitting here realizing that I just haven’t been very happy lately, a sure sign that something’s out of whack.

No, I don’t mean to imply that life will always be a bed of roses and I should be going around grinning like a fool without a care in the world 24/7.  But I do know that joy is possible, regardless of circumstances, because joy is a choice.  But somewhere along the way, I’ve allowed circumstances to take over and I find myself feeling unmotivated, down in the dumps, and just blah.

But the thing is my life is pretty good.  I have a comfortable home, friends, family, the ability to work and earn all the money I need.  So it’s not so much physical circumstances that are getting me down.  I think it’s more mental fatigue.

I’ve been a nurse for a quarter of a century now, and over those 25 years, I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve seen babies being born.  I’ve been there as old and young people have died.  I’ve cared for drug addicts, diabetics, people with heart failure, people waiting for a liver transplant.  I’ve cared for victims of drunk drivers whose lives will never be the same as the result of their injuries.  I feel like I’ve seen it all, but then I go to work and realize I haven’t.  It’s a stressful, fast-paced, physically demanding, and highly regulated profession, and I come home so many times wondering if I really made a difference.

The thing that eats at me, though, is that person who is my age or younger, fighting chronic diseases that could possibly have been prevented by lifestyle changes.  Losing 63 pounds and the aches and pains that went along with lugging around all that extra weight ignited a  passion within me for health and fitness and eventually led to a personal training certification.  It was the one option I could find that would allow me to work specifically towards preventing disease.

So what’s the problem, you say?

I wish I knew.  Things just feel overwhelming at the moment.   I don’t dislike being a nurse, but there’s the question of where does my passion for health and fitness fit?  I find myself wanting to take my career in that direction, and while I have a vision for what I’d like to do, I don’t know how to make it happen.  Or maybe it’s that I’m scared to make it happen.  I feel overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge there is to learn in a new field, even though so much overlaps with healthcare.  I’m nearly paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough, of not knowing enough, of not being effective at helping people make those lifestyle changes, the thing I want most to do.

And so I feel myself just stalling, staying where I’m comfortable despite the  dissatisfaction, letting fear steal my joy.

And the thing is, I’m not quite sure how to bust out of this funk and restore my mental health.  I tend to find, though, for me that mental and spiritual health tend to go hand in hand, so I think a lot of praying and listening to God is in my future!

So I put this out there not for sympathy but in the spirit of transparency.  I’m not sure how I’ll get to the other side of this mental wall, but I have (at least I’m trying to find) faith that I’ll find the way eventually.

Talk to me:

Can girls have a mid-life crisis?

What’s your solution for feeling down in the dumps?

 

Dressing for Cold Weather Running

Oklahoma weather is fickle.  Seriously.  In every place I’ve lived, people say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.”  But only in Oklahoma have I seen that to be true in extremes.  Here’s what I mean.

This was me running about 4 days before Christmas:Yeah, it felt like an early summer day out there.

Then, two days later, I’m running in this.  What?!And yesterday, I woke up to this forecast:I got some questions recently about what I wear in cold weather.  You can catch up on my essentials for running in winter weather here, but I thought today I’d focus specifically on the clothes I wear when it’s just downright cold out there.

  1.  Layer your clothes.  Wear a couple of thinner layers instead of one heavy layer.  The body heats up quickly with activity.  And running hot is just miserable.  If you get too hot, just remove an outer layer.
  2. Wear moisture wicking fabric next to your skin.  The first layer I put on, whether it’s tops or bottoms, is something of moisture wicking fabric.  In extreme cold like today, my top will be a long-sleeved shirt, and my first bottom layer will be a pair of leggings.  Most moisture wicking clothing will be labeled, but you can also look at the labels.  Clothes made with mostly polyester will be moisture wicking.  Avoid cotton next to your skin!  Even in the cold, you will sweat, and cotton just absorbs the moisture and makes you feel wet and uncomfortable.  I also wear a polyester cap, and the first pair of gloves I put on are moisture wicking.
  3. Think zippered tops for an outer layer.  I like zippered jackets for my outer top layer.  If I start to get too warm, I can unzip my jacket first.  Sometimes that cools me off enough.  But if I do want to take my outer layer off, a zipper makes it easy to get off.  Most of my outer layer jackets are also made of polyester, but with a moisture wicking shirt next to your skin, you could wear pretty much anything as an outer layer.  You just want to make sure you can move easily and don’t feel weighed down by what you’re wearing.
  4. Wear lightweight wind pants over leggings.  For my outer bottom layer, I love these super lightweight athletic pants.  They aren’t made especially for running, but they block the wind, don’t weigh me down, and are easy to move in.
  5. Layer those gloves!  For some reason, my hands stay miserably cold when I’m outside in winter.  And unlike the rest of my body, my hands don’t seem to warm up with activity.  I’ve found that layering gloves works well.  If I get too warm, I can peel off layers until I have just the right amount of protection.  I start with a pair of moisture wicking gloves, add a pair (or 2) of knit gloves, and then finish it off with a pair of fleecy socks.  Yep!  Socks are like mittens and provide tons of extra warmth.  My hands stay toasty warm even on the coldest of runs!
  6. Wear wool socks.  I love Feetures socks.  They are all I run in.  A friend told me about these Feetures socks and how they kept her feet warmer.  I tried a pair, and they have now become my go to cold weather running sock.  My toes still feel like ice cubes for a mile or two, but it seems they thaw out a lot more quickly than with my regular socks.
  7. Keep your ears warm.  I love my moisture wicking Under Armor cap.  It keeps my head warm but doesn’t make my hair feel wet.
  8. Cover your nose and mouth.  There are all kinds of things out there made especially for runners to cover their noses and mouths.  I haven’t tried them because as a runner with glasses, if I cover my nose and mouth too tightly, my glasses fog over when I breathe out!  For now, I just use a regular scarf.  I can loosen or tighten it as needed to avoid that dreaded glasses fog.

 

 

One rule that guides me as I’m deciding how to dress to run outside is to dress for 20 degrees warmer than actual temperatures.  So even though it’s 20 degrees, I’m going to dress for 40 degrees.  Cold weather running can be invigorating if you’re dressed appropriately!  I hope this helps, and maybe I’ll see you out there!

Talk to me:

How’s the weather where you live?

Cold weather runner or not?

18 for 2018

How can it be the last day of 2017?  If Facebook is an accurate representation of the masses, there are a lot of us out there, including yours truly, thinking back over the past year and looking forward to what the new year will bring.

Am I the only one that feels a sense of anticipation as January 1 rolls in?  I mean, we have an entire 12 months in front of us, 52 weeks with no mistakes, no regrets, and 365 days full of possibility.  That makes my heart jump just a bit, and I want to be intentional about how I use every single one of my 525, 600 minutes in 2018.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; they don’t work, but I do like to have goals to work towards.  So I’ve come up with a list of 18 (you know, since it’s about to be 2018) goals I’d like to work towards in the next year:

  1.  Try a new food or recipe once a month.  It’s time to get out of that food rut and be adventurous at meal time!
  2. Master double unders.  At least then I won’t have to jump with a fat rope that weighs a ton.
  3. Run a 2-hour half marathon.  That was a goal for 2017, but injury got in the way.  Here’s to making it happen this year!
  4. Get at least one pull-up.  Seriously, I have been working on this forever, but this is the year!
  5. Send birthday cards to my family.  I try, but I have my niece’s birthday card from November still sitting here.  🙁
  6. Call, text, or email a friend just because I’m thinking of him or her.  I think about people all the time; I’m just not good at letting them know.  I want to change that.
  7. Read a book just for fun.  When was the last time you read a book for fun?  I can’t remember.
  8. Visit a city I’ve never been to. 
  9. Read some scripture every day.  It keeps me grounded.
  10. Keep my desk cleared off.  I’m usually very organized, but the desk always looks like a war zone.
  11. Host a dinner party for my friends.
  12. Attend a community group at church regularly.  I want to be intentional about connecting with other people.  I haven’t done so well at that this past year.
  13. Coach someone to run their first 5K.  You know someone who wants to run a 5K?  Seriously, I’d love to help them reach that goal.
  14. Put my personal training certification to use.  This could be a whole post, but…fear can be crippling, and 2018 is my year to overcome it in this area.
  15. Try a new activity (I have no idea what this could be, but I’ll try to keep an open mind!)  I shot a gun at a target over Thanksgiving, something I’d never done, and while I was a miserable shot, it was kind of fun!
  16. Meditate regularly.  It’s not easy for me to just sit quietly, but I’m discovering what a great stress reliever meditation can be.
  17. Tithe on every paycheck.
  18. Tell the people close to me that I love them.  Something else I don’t do well…

It’s a long list, but I don’t think it’s impossible, and some of these things I do already.  I just want to keep on doing them regularly.  I’ll check in every 2 or 3 months to see how I’m doing in meeting my goals for 2018.  I might even let you in on that evaluation! 🙂

So here’s to 2018!  May it be a year full of life and health and finding adventure in all that comes our way.

Talk to me:

New Year’s resolutions or not?

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2018?

Post-Injury Running

So this happened last week:After 3.5 months, I finally ran 3 consecutive miles without stopping…and it felt great!

Knowing when and how much activity to add back in while recovering from an injury is hard for me.  I find myself just wanting to jump back in to my former level of activity, but after missing a whole season of training, I know I need to be cautious and go slowly.  And there’s no set formula, at least that I know of, that lays out exactly how to return to a former level of running.

So I’m kind of winging it.  I found this guide that’s been helpful.  And I’m following the rule of “if it hurts, stop.”  Since I was fit going in to an injury, I decided 3 miles at a whack would be a good starting distance.  But I also know that after such an extended time away from running, I’ve lost fitness and muscle strength.  What that means is I physically won’t be able to run my previous pace and distance for a while. For my early runs, I set a pace of 5 miles/hour (12 minutes a mile) which is 2 minutes slower than my last marathon pace.  Maybe I’m being overly cautious, but speed bothered my wonky hip flexor so I’d rather go too slow than to re-injure myself.

I started with 5 minutes of running followed by 5 minutes of walking on a treadmill to ease impact on a fragile hip flexor and then just gradually increased my run time while decreasing my walk time.  And finally last week  I ran 3 slow miles without a break…and no pain!  I was insanely happy!

My goal is to run 3 miles 3 times a week.  When I can do that without pain, I’d like to work myself up to about 20 miles a week before beginning to work on speed.  I was hoping to be ready to begin training again in January, but I’m trying to just be patient and focus on getting stronger.  Races will always be there; I want to make sure I’m healthy to run them.  But goodness, it’s hard to wait!

Talk to me:

What goal are you working towards currently?

Treadmill–like them or hate them?

 

My Favorite Soups

December.  Winter seems to be in full swing, but in typical Oklahoma fashion, yesterday reached nearly 80 degrees F while today wind chills were below freezing and little snowflakes fluttered from the sky only to meet their demise on windshields.  That’s how winter rolls in Oklahoma!

But even though temperatures have been even more mild than usual, the first hint of cold weather has me craving soup.  I am a sucker for a bowl of hot, homemade soup.  You?  So I thought I’d share my favorite soups with you and my attempts to make them “clean”, using products without added sugars, that are organic and non-GMO, and use as little processed ingredients as possible.

Besides just tasting good and warming your insides on a cold day, making a pot of soup is all the meal prepping I need to do for a week.  I know.  Being single I don’t have to make as much food as a family would need for a week, but a pot of soup can make several meals.  That’s one thing I like about soup.  It’s also very forgiving to make, easy to reheat, easy to take to work, and generally tastes better after it sits for a day or so!  And if you avoid heavy creamed soups, a bowl of soup can be a fairly low calorie meal or snack.

These are some of my favorites I’ve been enjoying over the last few weeks.  And since I cook soups by taste, I don’t have specific measurements to follow.  Sorry!

  1.  Chili.  Who doesn’t love a bowl of chili, right?  And chili has the added bonus of being comfort food for me.  My mom would make a pot of chili on the first cold snap of the winter, so it’s one of the first things I think about when leaves start to fall, and temperatures take a nose dive.  One thing about chili–it’s the Fritos, cheese, and sour cream that make it not so good for you!

I start by browning lean ground turkey and minced onion in just a tad of olive oil if your turkey is very lean.  Add in one or two cans of organic red beans or kidney beans, depending on your preference.  Season the meat and beans with salt, chili powder, and ground cloves.  Add a can of organic tomato juice (I had V8 on hand this time, but I definitely prefer just plain tomato juice).  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup boils.  Simmer until the flavors blend (the longer the better!)  Season to taste with additional salt, chili powder and cloves.  I also add just a bit of coconut sugar to tame the acidity of the tomato juice.

Easy peasy and so yummy! 

2.  Chicken noodle soup.  Ahh, you can’t go wrong with chicken noodle soup, right?!  I always make sure I have baked or grilled chicken ready to use before I begin making this soup.

I start with pouring boxed or canned organic chicken stock into my pot and then, adding chicken broth to get the right amount of soup you want to make.  (I found that adding stock gives it more chicken flavor).  I read labels to make sure the broth I am using doesn’t have added sugar and lots of other ingredients I can’t pronounce.  Season the broth with basil, marjoram, salt and pepper to your taste.  Once the broth boils, add brown rice pasta (I like the spiral noodles).  When the pasta is nearly done, add the chicken, and frozen peas and carrots and continue cooking until the pasta and veggies are tender.

3.  Vegetable beef soup.  This takes me a bit longer to make because I start by roasting the cut of beef in the oven.  I like to add salt and pepper to the roast and toss in a bay leaf before I place it in the oven.

Once the roast is cooked, I cut up the amount of beef I need for the soup.  Brown it in a soup pot with just a bit of olive oil.  Add beef broth (again, I read labels to make sure I’m not adding a bunch of unnecessary ingredients), enough to make the amount of soup that you want.  Once the broth boils, add your vegetables.  I use whatever I have on hand.  Usually that’s a bag of frozen mixed vegetables (the kind with green beans, lima beans, peas, carrots, etc) and maybe a sweet potato.  Season with salt and pepper.  After the soup simmers for a while, I like to add in just a bit of tomato juice.  It seems to enhance the beef flavor.

4.  Butternut squash soup.  This is one of my all time favorites, but it does require a little more prep.  The extra prep time is so worth it, though!  Unlike the other soups that I tend to make most frequently, I do follow a recipe for this one.  Get the recipe here.

I don’t make the parmesan croutons to cut calories, but I don’t feel I’m missing anything.  This soup is delicious!

Cutting up a butternut squash is a bit difficult.  I have visions of cutting off a finger because the skin of the squash is not easy to cut through.  One thing I did this time to make things easier was to roast the squash in the peel before I cubed it.  It worked wonderfully, I didn’t lose a finger, and it tasted amazing!  You could also buy frozen, cubed butternut squash which would significantly cut down your prep time if you are in a time crunch.

So there’s my list of favorite soups.  As you can see, I tend to just use what I have on hand and mix broths, veggies, and spices to make it taste like I want it to.  That’s what I mean about soups being forgiving.  Just add a little of this or that until it tastes “right”!

Mmmm…now I’m thinking I should make a pot of soup for the rest of the week…

Talk to me:

Soup eater or not?

What’s your favorite soup recipe?

 

 

 

NEAT Ideas to Burn More Calories

If you’re like a lot of people, keeping up with fitness goals is hard this time of year.  With colder temperatures and wet stuff falling from the skies, being outside is not so much fun.  I have to admit, though, that some of my funnest and most invigorating runs have been in the snow!

And should we even mention all the holiday gatherings and parties?  It’s just a tough time of year to stay on track.

And then, tack on an injury that prevents your normal activities.  That’s me currently with this wonky hip flexor.  (More on that progress in another post.)

So with a few months of limited activity, I’ve really been focusing on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) to burn as many calories as possible to help me stay in shape.

Okay, quick biology lesson before I loose you with some big ‘ol term like non-exercise activity thermogenesis.  There are basically 3 ways that our body burns calories:

  1.  Basal metabolic rate (BMR).  Metabolism is basically all the behind the scenes things that happen without us being aware to keep our bodies ticking– reactions that keep our hearts beating and cause respiration, for example.  This is actually our biggest source of calorie expenditure, and everyone’s BMR differs.  A rough estimate of my BMR is between 1200-1300 calories.  That means that I will expend 1200-1300 calories a day just to keep my body functioning.
  2. Thermic effect of food.  Our bodies burn calories through digesting the food we eat.  It’s a small source of calorie expenditure, but it is a way our body uses fuel.
  3. Exercise.  And the last way our body burns calories is through exercise–movement.  We all know that, right?  We think about exercise as that hour in the gym or 30 minutes on the treadmill or that Zumba class.  Whatever your thing is “exercise” tends to have this defined start and stop time of doing a specific activity with the focus of conditioning our bodies–which is important to overall health and fitness.

But another part of exercise is non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT.  Don’t be alarmed.  It’s just a long term that refers to the calories you burn by all the movement you do outside of your regularly scheduled exercise session that can add up to hundreds of extra calories burned a day.

Here are 10 NEAT ideas to keep you moving and burning calories:

  1.  Stand up every 30 minutes.  If you have a desk job, just stand up every 30 minutes.  Remember that any movement makes your body burn fuel, AKA calories.
  2. Park further from the store.  Do you ever get tired of driving around looking for a convenient parking space?  Why not just pick that spot in the back 40 where no one parks?  You’ll get in extra steps walking to and from the store, and you’ll have the added bonus of avoiding those awful door dings.
  3. Wash the dishes by hand.  Hey, it’s just an idea.  You’ll have those extra minutes of scrubbing and drying dishes to burn away extra calories.
  4. Fidget.  If you’re like me, you hear your mom scold you for fidgeting if you start to jiggle your leg or tap your fingers, but fidgeting can actually add to the number of calories you burn in a day.  Stuck in a meeting?  Jiggle your leg or tap your fingers. Stuck in a line at the grocery store?  Why not just shift your weight from one leg to the other?  It’s movement!
  5. Do glute extensions while you’re brushing  your teeth.  Seriously, I do this sometimes.  While I’m standing there brushing my choppers, I just extend one leg behind me and use the glute (butt) muscles to kick out my leg.
  6. Take the stairs.  So if  you work on the 99th floor, this may not be feasible, but I bet you could walk a few flights of stairs.  Avoiding elevators and climbing stairs is a great way to get in some extra movement during the day.
  7. March in place.  If you’re at home watching a movie or a TV program, commercial breaks are a great time to get up and move.  March in place if it’s a commercial you really want to see, or just take a quick walk up and down the hall.
  8. Rake the leaves.  I’ll admit, it’s a chore I don’t like, but yard work of any kind is great exercise! 
  9. Take the long way.  Just like parking further from the store entrance can increase your steps for the day, so can taking the long way.  Don’t just opt for the shortest path to the bathroom, coffee pot, or water fountain; make an excursion out of your break and add in a few more steps.
  10. Sit on a stability ball.  You’ll have to use more muscles to stabilize yourself on the ball and you’ll probably find yourself bouncing around on it and moving more than if you were sitting in a regular chair.  Plus, they’re just super fun!

Bottom line, NEAT is all about moving as much as you can throughout your day.  Sit as little as possible; move as much as you can.  One big source of NEAT for me recently has been washing kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  Sunny checked things out to make sure I hadn’t missed a spot.  How would I survive without him? 🙂Promise yourself today to increase your NEAT.  You can do it!

Talk to me:

How do you keep yourself moving throughout the day?

What’s your biggest challenge to fitness during winter?

Route 66 from the Sidelines

Yesterday was a bittersweet kind of day.  It was the Route 66 half/full marathon day, the race I had been training for before Mr. Hip Flexor cried “ouch” and made me stop training.

I woke up in a total funk, to be perfectly honest.  I can’t even tell you how disappointed I was at not being able to participate in the race.  And it looked to be perfect running weather, not cold and blustery like the day before.  So I laid in bed, debating whether to even go to the race or not.  Finally, I kicked myself in the butt and got going.  Really?  I was going to lay in bed and mope because I can’t run instead of cheering on my friends?  What kind of friend, and runner, am I?

And I’m so glad I got myself out the door.  It was a gorgeous fall day!  Bright blue skies, just that right temperature, very little wind.  Just being outside lifted my spirits.

I decided to take advantage of the fact that I would be watching the race to see parts of a race that I don’t get to experience when I’m running the race…like the start.  Sure, I can hear the gun and feel the surge of the crowd as we near and cross the start line, but I’ve never seen what that start looks like.  Wow!  So fun!

The race started with the national anthem.Then the wheelchair racers started.  Can I just say that wheelchair racers are a-mazing!  Running a marathon with the use of big leg muscles is hard enough; I can’t imagine doing it without the use of those muscles.  Then, it’s time for the open race.  The drum beats out a rhythm that gets your heart pounding.  The announcer counts down the seconds:  10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1!  The gun sounds; confetti fills the air and the racers are underway!  Just standing there taking it all in, I could feel my heart beat with anticipation, as if I was in my corral waiting for my turn to run through the confetti and cross the start line.  So fun!

Once the race was underway, I stationed myself at the 3.5 mile mark. 

The runners were still running fairly tightly, and I because I was hoping to be able to see some of my friends, I cheered on the masses for a bit and then scoped out another spot around the 7 mile mark.I have to say, driving around town during a huge race gave me an understanding of the frustration I hear from non-runners trying to get where they need to go.  This is a common site during a race.  Intersections blocked with police standing watch make it hard to maneuver the city, but as a runner, I am most grateful for the many, many police who stand for hours to protect the runners.

Another thing I’m so grateful for as a runner is this:Yes, a porta potty is a beautiful site when you’re on a long run and you’ve gotta go!

I saw a few friends, but I decided to move on to another location.  I found a spot at around mile 20 on the marathon route.  I got there ahead of the runners, and so I saw another first.  Here comes the first place marathon runner!  How exciting!I hung out on the corner for a long time.  By now the crowd had thinned out and the racers were coming by one at a time and then later 3 or 4 in a group.  It was so fun to be able to encourage them individually as they came down the hill and turned the curve to face this:Let me tell you.  If may not look like a big hill, but after 20-21 miles, even a molehill feels huge!

And standing on that corner, I encountered a blind runner.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A man with no sight was running the marathon, and he was ahead of the 4:30 pacer.  Translation:  this guy was moving!  Application:  I have no excuse to not try.

And so my Route 66 marathon ended, not with a medal and a PR as I’d hoped, but with an appreciation again of the beauty of the body in motion, deep respect for the runners who put so much time and effort into running this race, and sincere gratitude for eyes to see the race, a voice with which to cheer, and legs that may not be able to run a marathon at the moment but do work and will, in time, run again.

Congratulations to all the Route 66 finishers!  You guys are awesome!

 

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