Tag Archives: Health

Food is Love

And that’s ok!

Growing up Italian, all family gatherings revolved around good food. Think pasta, cheeses, meats, bread and dessert…typically enough to feed a small army. My favorite childhood memories involve cooking with my mom. I still love watching her cook. And there’s a certain level of joy in eating a home cooked meal. We even had the clean plate club as kids.

It’s no surprise that today, I love to cook and feed people. It makes me happy and I love bringing people together over a meal. It’s probably also not surprising that I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life and could eat an entire pizza without struggle. Let me be clear: I am in no way blaming my loving family for my weight issues. That’s 100% on me. However, growing up that way I did cultivated a love affair with food, one that requires attention.

I’ve been dieting in one way or another since I was 12. Something finally clicked this October when joined Beachbody and decided once and for all, to get healthy, not diet. For the last two months, I’ve meal prepped, measured, worked out and been a part of this amazing Beachbody community. I feel strong, healthy and have more energy than I did 10 years ago. I was going to weigh in this morning so I could share my progress. But honestly, it’s not about the scale. I could obsess over a number or I could go with how I feel. I choose the latter.
progress not perfectionSure, I’ve digressed in the last two months. My mom’s stuffing at Thanksgiving is an all time favorite and I had this amazing ravioli at one of my favorite spots in Philly. I’ve learned that it’s ok to indulge but then move on. Don’t go down the slippery slope and don’t guilt trip yourself; it does nothing. It’s about balance, planning and loving yourself. Every. Single. Inch. I look in the mirror today and loveeeeee the woman I see. All of this also does wonders for a girl’s mental state.

Leave a comment or drop me a note if you want to learn more. This is not an ad for Beachbody, that’s not my style. BUT as a big believer in the power of community, it worked for me, after trying zillions of programs. At the end of the day, it’s about focusing on you and feeling good. That’s all that matters! I’m not ready to share before and after pictures yet, but I promise it’s on the 2018 blog post list.

I’ll see you all in 2018! Check back in early January for my words of the year post!

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Digital Detoxing

It’s been a little more than a week since I’ve been back from vacation. I was fortunate enough to go to Mexico with my childhood besties. I intentionally didn’t set up my cell service because I knew I needed a break.

Thankfully, nothing burned down and no one died while I was gone. I had anxious moments where I thought something terrible happened and no one told me. Clearly, my family knows me better and would have texted one of my friends.  

I feel like everywhere you turn today, there’s research that shows the importance of shutting down. It’s one of those things you don’t realize you need until you do it. Now I want to integrate it into my everyday. Here are the four big takeaways from my digital detox. 

  1. Better connections: My friends and I were together most of the time and no one really used their phones. This meant we talked a lot, about different topics we don’t always get to at brunch when we’re home. It was nice to connect with them on another level. I also know I’m a big talker so I had to read my friends and know when enough word vomit was enough.
  2. Mind, body, soul is real: If one of these areas is out of whack, then they’re all out of whack. When we got there, I had a really bad headache and couldn’t even appreciate that I was on a gorgeous beach in the middle of Mexico. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are all important and connected. It was a good reminder to pay attention to each. 
  3. Be a kid again: Thankfully my friends can be silly and fun without any prompting.cliff jumping We laughed more times than I could count! We also went down water slides and jumped off fake cliff (picture to the right proves it). It doesn’t matter how old you are, go outside and play every now and again. It feels SO good! 
  4. Non-attachment: I don’t need to be glued to my phone. The social media world kept spinning without me. Not every last thing I do needs to be on social media. Logically in my brain, I know this. But it was so freeing to not be conditioned by email or texts or other notifications. I’m *trying* to bottle up this digital freedom feeling and remind myself to not be so connected all the time. 

Have you quit the technology for a period of time? Helpful? Horrible? Please share! 

Easing into 2016

The month of January goes one of two ways:

  1. You throw yourself into New Year’s resolutions, planning, etc.
  2. The holidays and the cold weather have drained you and the thought of resolutions makes you want to crawl into a hole

Typically a new year is a time for you to reflect and create new goals. But why put all this pressure on ourselves to implement these changes up front? Why not create a year of resolutions, aspirations and new fun things you want to experience?

For the last two months, I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin‘s podcast Happier that she does weekly with her sister Elizabeth. Among other pearls of wisdom, each episode starts with a try this at home tip: a digestible idea to help you create better habits. A few, liking setting an alarm for bedtime, resonated with me. They’re also super easy and fun to try.

As I planned for the new year, I remember the podcast, these tips and recognized that a list of lofty resolutions wasn’t going to work for me. Actually, it never has.

So instead, I started focusing on a couple of things that hopefully will male me a little happier and a little healthier. So far for the month of January, I’ve implemented:

  • Packing breakfast and lunch daily
  • Tracking workouts at the gym
  • Walking during one call a day at work
  • Writing blog posts while at the gym (eliminates the pressure to find another time to write)

Now for some ideas I thought were good but aren’t sticking:

  • Getting up 30 minute earlier to do yoga.
  • Going to bed at a consistent time
  • Taking a lunch break to read

small changesI’m not totally giving up on these ideas but need to look at them differently and assess if now is the right timing. For example, instead of a full yoga class in the morning, maybe it’s ten mindful minutes of stretching. These smaller changes do have a bigger impact and absolutely remove the pressure of trying to do too much.

I can only speak for myself here: pressure doesn’t help me but it might work for you. We all need to meet ourselves where we are. Nobody needs more pressure or stress. Certainly, I’m not perfect, but these smaller changes have helped my mood. overall well-being and happiness.

What are your thoughts on New Years resolutions? Any helpful tips to share on how to implement new rituals or habits?

Life Lessons From A Knee Immobilizer

A couple of weekends ago, the ice got the better of me and I fell on my knee. I’ve been hobbling around ever since. Luckily, my icy injury has been getting better, but moving around quickly is still not in the cards.

It wasn’t until my knee forced me to slow down that I realized how jammed packed my schedule is. I’ve structured my life in a such that there’s no wiggle room for injuries. There’s not much down time or white space. While I like it that way, when something goes astray, it’s scheduling gymnastics to figure it out.

slow downWhat my knee has done is allowed for time to reflect, something I should do more often and will now try to build into each day. Below are a few of the lessons I’ve learned while being immobile the last couple of weeks.

  • It could be worse: I’ve had days where I felt really sorry for myself. How did I manage to do this? The timing couldn’t be worse (in fact, it could). And then, I realize it could have been much worse, like cracking my head open or chipping a tooth.
  • My body, my temple: When your body functions properly, you totally take it for granted. It’s after your body fails, even if temporarily, that you realize how important each moving part is. For me, this mean refocusing on my health and fitness once this knee heels.
  • Every bite counts: Since I can’t exercise, I’ve notice that every last thing I eat matters. There’s no room for cheap meals or cocktails when you’re not burning calories. Also, thanks to a colleague, I’ve realized how bad sitting all day is. I hope to bring an exercise ball to work as an alternative to sitting all day in a chair.
  • #Blessed: This knee thing is a momentary setback. Others aren’t as fortunate and have permanent, life changing injuries. I have a newfound appreciation for those people because it can’t be easy.

Thankfully, my knee will heal and I’ll be back to running, yoga and Zumba in no time! I am glad that I was forced to slow down and reflect, something I need to do more often. Have you ever had an injury that slowed you down? Share in the comments!

Punching My Card

At the beginning of the year, I made a promise to myself: to be healthy. I know most everyone starts the new year off with diets, new workout routines and juice cleanses. While all of that was part of my resolution, it has become so much more than that.

mentalityI knew being healthy was going to mean a change in behavior and a shift in mindset. I like to eat really good food and finding time to fit in a workout is always a challenge. But 2014 was the year when it had to change. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life and knew something had to change. I found Zumba classes close to the train station, making it easiy to get there after work. My job also offers a strength training class after work in the cafeteria. These classes combined with a close-by yoga class and a run makes for a successful exercise week.

Each of my classes gives their participants a card to punch at each class. This card punching process has become addictive. I look so forward to class each week that I have on occasion flipped out when I couldn’t attend. Take last Wednesday for example. I couldn’t get to my strength training class because I didn’t take my car to the train station. I was in full tantrum mode by 6 a.m. After a few deep breaths, I realized that whybeing so upset means my fitness routine has become a priority for me. This was a shift in behavior as working out was never a constant priority; now it is. I look forward to my classes and want to order a salad for lunch. Of course priorities might have to shift some days and I will miss a class. But in the end, my overall well-being ranks high on the priority list now.

Since I’ve built working out into my weekly schedule, my body feels better and my attitude is more positive. I don’t huff and puff up the subway steps and actually look forward to my walk to Penn Station after work. Now I just need to stick through it during the spring!

Has fitness always been important to you? If not, what changed? Feel free to share your thoughts!

 

How Do You Define Success?

Lean In” and Sheryl Sandberg have permeated every news channel, major corporation and magazine cover during the last couple of months. The book has been wildly successful and Sandberg has led an army of mainly women in the charge for equality in the workplace. While her book is very helpful and it’s great companies want to aid women in the work/life balance struggle, “Lean In” is not a gospel for every woman out there.

The work/life balance is such a personal issue for men and women alike that no one prescribed way can be applied to everyone’s situation. In reality, it comes down to how you define success. Is is a c-suite office, a certain pay grade, or having happy, responsible children? I can’t answer that question for you and neither can Sheryl Sandberg. What we can do, as women fighting for a better tomorrow, is lift each other up rather than bring one another down.

acsuccessSuccess is one of those obscure topics like happiness. There’s the dictionary definition but that can’t possibly capture everyone’s feelings on these sometimes lofty out-of-reach ideas. A co-worker recently shared a Harvard Business Review (HRB) article that eloquently addressed the topic of success saying “You have to define what success means to you—understanding, of course, that your definition will evolve over time.” I experienced this epitome earlier in the week when I made the conscious decision to attend my fitness class instead of staying later at work. As a young professional, my career is top of mind, but since the start of 2014, my health has become a top priority too. Right now, being successful means taking time for myself, whether that is a yoga class or a manicure.

It is easy to define success right now as a single, young professional with no responsibility to anyone but myself. However, I know it will gradually become harder, when I add a significant other and children to the mix. That is why I enjoyed the HBR article so much; it is okay for your definition of success to change as your grow and figure out what you want from this life. I look at others my age and occasionally question their lack of ambition. But who am I to define success for them? I can’t want for others what they don’t want for themselves. We can’t define success for anyone else but ourselves.

I think that having a clear definition of success and sharing it with your board of directors is important. Of course,definesuccess you can change this definition whenever you need to, but keeping it top of mind will help you make tough decisions. If you define success as being home with your children by 6 p.m. three nights a week, write it on a post-it, share it with your team and make it happen! I doubt it will always be easy and sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice, but keeping your definition of success top of mind should help.

How do you define success? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section!

 

Motivation Mondays: The Stress Factor

Last week, the world lost a Hollywood icon: James Gandolfini. He passed away suddenly from a heart attack while vacationing in Italy with her son and sister. He was only 51 years old.

Gandolfini was most infamously known as Tony Soprano, the lead mobster from New Jersey, on the hit HBO series The Sopranos. He had other movie roles, most recently the C.I.A. director in Zero Dark Thirty as well as a role on Broadway. He was known as a gentle giant who loved his family, friends and being Italian. As an avid Sopranos fan, I was saddened by his death but it also served as a wake-up call.

gandolfiniGandolfini was a younger man, who wasn’t sick and had plenty of living left to do. Yet, in an instance, he was taken away from his family and friends. Anyone who knew Tony Soprano knew he was a big guy.  As an Italian, he loved his pasta and wine too. His presumed weight problem coupled with the stress of being a Hollywood star unfortunately were a lethal combination. I’ve seen this pairing too often in my own life. My grandfather passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 47. This past December, my 42 year-old cousin died the same way. All were taken too soon.

Weight is a constant battle for me as well as most of my family members. Actually, weight in general is probably something most of the world struggles with. No one should obsess but everyone should be conscious of their weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Working out regularly and eating healthy helps you maintain a healthy weight. But what about the stress factor?

Stress is almost just as bad as eating poorly and being a couch potato. But, in my opinion, it is not as easy to manage as counting calories or hitting the gym. Stress puts undo pressure on all parts of your body: your muscles tense up, your heart rate increases and digestive problems develop. The longer you let stress affect you, the more prevalent these issues become.

So, here’s the deal: we all need to commit to managing our stress better. A couple of ways to handlestress stress better include:

  • Pinpoint exactly what stresses you out and choose a couple of ways to deal with the problem. Even write them out to glance at when the problem occurs.
  • Close your eyes and take some deeps breathes.
  • Leave your desk and go for a walk.
  • Set boundaries and stick to them.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • LAUGH more 🙂

The death of James Gandolfini should be a reminder to all of us that stress negatively impacts our health regardless of how old we are. Making the changes will be hard but will be totally worth it. Check out the clip below of the gentle giant, Gandolfini on Sesame Street.

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