Challenge Accepted.

IMG_2115Hi friends! I have been the worst and raced two triathlons and made the switch from training to off-season without reporting back. Sorry! I’m still hopeful that I’ll pull together a NYC Tri race report for you before the summer’s up, but don’t hold your breath.

Frankly, it’s been a summer of total upheaval in my life and it’s left me with little time or inclination to write. My very long term relationship ended, which meant I had to move out of a place that I’ve considered home for the past few years and learn how to be an independent lady again. All changes for the best, but as you know, change is never easy.

But today I killed a giant water bug. All. by. my. self.

And I didn’t freak out about it or lose my shit.

Would it have been a whole lot nicer to be able to grab someone else to kill that sucker? Hell yea. Do I wish there was no bug at all, and I could carry on in my delusion that I found an apartment in NYC with absolutely no bugs? Uh, yes.  But it does feel pretty good to have done something that scares the bejeezus out of me (no matter how trivial). And so, I’m feeling pretty damn proud of myself.

I am a bug-killing, triathlon racing, early morning running, getting it done at work, badass grown lady.

While this summer has been one of the most challenging of my life, it’s also been one of the most gratifying. I’m learning what I’m capable of, how resilient I can be, and am consistently reminded that I have the world’s most amazing friends and family. (Seriously, I am SO, SO grateful for all of you – THANK YOU!)

I know I’m not alone here, so if you’re struggling out there, know that that you’re definitely not the only one, and if you need a listening ear, you know where to find me. Here’s to taking on new challenges, taking chances, and learning to be the very best version of ourselves!

Down with Negative Thinking!

Whew! Is anyone else feeling like time just needs to SLOOOOOOOW DOOOOOOOWN?  I can’t believe it’s already March (even though it still feels like January, brrrr). I sort of feel like I’m constantly waiting for life to slow down, but it never does.  Busy is the new normal?

Let’s get through the housekeeping first! We’re about halfway through the DOU Pinterest Challenge, so follow the board and I’ll invite you to start pinning the recipes you’ve tested!  (C’mon, we need each other for quality control – sure those recipes look good, but are they? Here’s our chance to join forces and find out!)

Mardi Gras 2012
Mardi Gras 2012

Next up – Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!  Today is Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday! Faschnaut Day! Pancake Day! Carnivale!  Whatever you call it, and whatever you do to celebrate, I hope you were able to indulge today!  (I know I’ve had one too many snacks to honor the occasion.)  I think it’s my duty as a good Catholic to be either gluttonous, drunk, or lecherous on Fat Tuesday.

Alas, with the indulgence of Fat Tuesday comes the asceticism of Lent.  When I was a kid, I was taught that you should keep your Lenten sacrifices to yourself – you know, “don’t let your left hand know, what your right hand is dong” – because if your making yourself a martyr it kind of defeats the purpose.  People aren’t supposed to tell you how wonderful you are for the sacrifices you’re making.  That said, a solid 80% of my Facebook newsfeed today is an announcement of what will be abstained from for the next 40 days – and yes, I’m amused by all of it. Best of luck to you all, and for the love of life, if you are giving up cheese or chocolate, stay away from me until Easter!

I haven’t decided if I’ll “give anything up” for Lent (I’d like to give up cold weather, but ya know), but I will definitely be conscious of squashing negative thinking during this mindful time of year, and I challenge you to join me!

So, when the person in front of me is walking sooooooo sloooooow as I’m scurrying to catch my train, I’m going to remind myself that contrary to my initial thoughts, they’re not the worst person on the entire planet, take a freaking breath and patiently make my way to work. There is probably a very good reason why they are moving so slowly, and it’s not helping anyone for me to shoot the evil eye into their skull as I stew silently.

And when I catch a glimpse of my larger than average thighs in the mirror, I’m not going to think about how terrible I am for eating dessert six days last week.  I have a healthy, capable body, and though it doesn’t look exactly the way I want it to, there isn’t anything wrong with it.

I’m going to try and be more mindful of the times when senseless negativity takes over my thoughts, and squash that beast.  I won’t be suffering, but I think I’ll learn something, and I’m pretty sure that by Easter I’ll be a happier, more centered individual.

What did you do to celebrate Fat Tuesday?

Scenes from my weekend

Hi friends – Happy Valentine’s Day/President’s Day hangover week!

I’m a little under the weather, so I don’t have much to say today – except down with the cold virus!  Anyhow, I wanted to pop a quick reminder that the Pinterest recipe challenge started on Monday, and you can still join!  Just follow the board on Pinterest and I’ll send you an invite to start posting on it.  You’ll be sharing amazing recipes you’ve tried out in no time :)  I already made these delicious Paleo Chicken Jalapeño Burgers for the challenge -yum!

I had a fantastic weekend with friends, family, food and adventure – but I think I may have overextended myself since I picked up a cold somewhere along the way.  I trekked down to Red Hook on V-Day and ate some INCREDIBLE meat at Hometown BBQ with my love and some friends.  I went on a spa day expedition with some fabulous ladies on Saturday. (We ended up at a Russian Bath in Coney Island called Mermaid Spa because every other place was full.  It was…an experience, but I totally loved it!)  Sunday was a day for getting sh*t done – like buying a much needed new set of sheets and a bathmat (my life is SO glamorous) – and family dinner (MEATBALLS!!!!).  Monday was the cherry on top of a fabulous weekend because I went out to New Jersey to see my brother rock out on stage.  He’s in the NATIONAL TOUR of American Idiot, so I don’t get to see much of him, and seeing him in his element on stage was just awesome.  It didn’t hurt that one of my best friends and a ton of family and family-friends were there too – love my people!

I’m definitely feeling the effects of a go-go-go weekend, but it was amazing.  Here’s a glimpse of the goods:

Snow-weary travelers head to the Russian Baths...
Snow-weary travelers head to the Russian Baths…
I loved this simple and creative centerpiece at the restaurant where we caught brunch!
I loved this simple and creative centerpiece at the restaurant where we caught brunch!
Literally, nothing is better than homemade meatballs - this is one of my favorite things about dating an Italian :)
Literally, nothing is better than homemade meatballs – this is one of my favorite things about dating an Italian :)
Tulips from the corner deli - that MUST mean spring is coming soon…right?
Tulips from the corner deli – that MUST mean spring is coming soon…right?

Hope you had a great long weekend – and that your back to work week hasn’t been too bad!

The Rockstar Series Returns – Seven in Heaven-style!

Ok friends, I know I have been DYING to put up a post by another Rockstar, and now I that I have one for you, I hope you’re excited too!

Today’s post is super special to me, because I’m actually RELATED to this Rockstar (yea, you should be jealous)!  It’s my cousin Carly, who (among other amazing things) works with kids who have autism, was brave enough to move halfway across the world to Hawaii for the experience of it, and while working AND going to school – she manages to look like a fitness model – no big deal.  In the wake of all this awesomeness, she’s still a totally chill, fun person who knows how to have a good time (I mean, she shares genes with someone who calls a blog Drunk on Opportunity)!  Without further ado, meet Carly!

Meet Carly!
Your rockstar on race day!

Living a healthy lifestyle means being around for my great-grandchildren, means being able to move my body well when I’m older, means setting an example for younger generations. I believe that feeling strong translates to every aspect of your life. Overall, I want to stay as healthy and feel as good as I can for as long as I can.

Have you always been a health guru?  Where did you pick up your healthy habits?

My parents certainly engrained in me small healthy habits that I’ve built upon over the years, always playing sports, just being active in general. And always ensuring that there were vegetables with our meals. I picked up a health studies minor in undergrad to continue learning about health and nutrition, and I follow a bunch of different health podcasts that I listen to on my way to work every day. They keep me motivated and are a great reminder of why I want to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s really become more than just a hobby for me at this point, I love learning about new recipes, supplements, and workouts. I’m just entering the running world and starting gently with 5ks and 10ks!

What’s a day in the life for you?  How do you fit healthy foods and exercise into your busy day?

Well it all really starts on Sunday night. We make all of our meals for the week, which is lame because this means that we eat the same thing every day of the work week. Right now my husband Kevin and I are both in school. He for ultrasound, and me for behavior analysis. We have literally never been this busy in our lives. We wake up together, make a green smoothie, hit the road, and I drive an hour to work with little kiddos with autism in their homes. I bring a small cooler with plenty of water and snacks- I do this because I know that if I bring them, that I will eat them, and not some other junk. I bring fruit, nuts, cut up veggies, veggie straws, popcorn, anything that’s easy to munch in the car, where I spend most of my day when I’m not in session chasing 3 year olds! Then I come home, and hit the gym or go for a run. This is crucial- it reminds me that I need to make time for myself even in the midst of the craziness! When I’m done my head is clearer, I feel productive, and my body feels awesome. We got bikes this Christmas, and are excited to get riding! Kevin doesn’t love going to the gym, so riding bikes together will be a perfect opportunity for us to cruise around our beach town while burning some calories and spending time together. Then we eat dinner, do some schoolwork, make our lunches and snacks for the next day, and go to sleep. Sleep is another high priority for us. Being tired leads us to be hungrier and not getting the most out of our days.

What are your favorite forms of exercise?  Have they changed over time, or are you a life long lover of something?

I have always found solace in running, but since I decided last year to really change my diet and exercise habits, I have loved HIIT- high intensity interval training. I discovered HIIT training from Jillian Michael’s podcast. It is a super fast-paced method of working out, I barely have time to look at the clock so workouts fly by and I like that I am able to push myself a little bit more every time. I alternate different modalities of cardio with strength exercises. I also wear a fitness tracker armband which tracks the calories I burn throughout the day as well as my sleep patterns. It’s so motivating to see those numbers go up and just by virtue of wearing it, I am reminded to move more.

Do you follow any specific diets or avoid certain foods?  Why or why not?

My philosophy keeps changing with the newest available scientific research, but my main idea of diet is to just eat real, whole foods. We stay far away from fast food, processed foods, foods with added sugars or chemicals, and now, gluten as well. We don’t have celiac disease, but when Kevin started developing digestive and skin problems (which are often related) we started trying new diets to help him improve. It was a chiropractor who suggested removing gluten from our diets to help with inflammation in my neck, and TA DA! His symptoms magically disappeared! We are not really following a Paleo diet, but after removing gluten, we both feel better and so we continued with it. We try to do these things at least 80% of the time. It’s all about balance.

What are some specific challenges you have faced on your healthy journey?

Eating out or at other people’s houses is always tough. We try to always bring something with us to share, but we usually wind up eating food we wouldn’t otherwise eat. We are more than ok with that though, we don’t think it’s healthy to deprive ourselves from things we love. Everything in moderation. Exercising can be a challenge too, when there is so much else to get done, sometimes it takes a back seat to schoolwork or work for our jobs. There will be good days and healthy days, and there will be days where I haven’t made decisions that align with my overall health mentality. I think the key is to always get back up.

Carly and KevI’m in a rut.  What would you advise to help me integrate healthy habits back into my life?

Sometimes completely overhauling your diet and/or life to one that is healthier can be a daunting task. What works for one person may not work for someone else, so try new things and see what works for you. Start small, make small goals for yourself, ones that you know you are capable of reaching, and then keep building upon them. You will start to feel stronger and more in control of your life. Forgive yourself when you make bad choices, and start each day brand new.

The Olympics are Coming

Olympic Rings(This post is dedicated to the Olympic’s biggest fan, EmYo!)

Ok – so the Olympics are coming.  Do you know how I know?  The media circus has begun and Visa is exclusively advertising via Olympian endorsed commercials.  I like the Olympics, and as such, I have bought into every single one of the media’s ploys to get me excited about them.

I got sucked into Ready to Fly, a documentary about the women of ski jumping, and their (really long) fight to get their event in the Olympics.  I’m thrilled that the International Olympic Committee is taking strides towards gender equality in sports, and I think the Olympics are a wonderful form of cultural diplomacy, but man do they look like bad guys.  Realistically, I don’t know enough about the IOC to form a judgment, but they came out of this documentary looking like Goliath for sure.  My verdict- not the world’s best documentary, but a GREAT story.  Cheers to the ladies of US Ski Jumping – kick ass in Sochi!  Catch it on Netflix when you want to get psyched up for the gym – you’ll be so mad at “the man”, you’ll want to take up a sport that hasn’t been recognized by the IOC so you can fight the system.

Next up is ESPN’s The Price of Gold.  As a lady (and straight up girly girl) who grew up in the 90s, this was the ESPN documentary to end all ESPN documentaries.  Now, I’m a sucker for a sports doc, and Charlie’s gotten me hooked on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, but this one iced the cake for me.  First, it got my college basketball loving boyfriend to watch figure skating with me.  Second, I got to see the Tonya/Nancy scandal unfold as an adult, which gave me a whole new perspective.  Third, I learned that Women’s Figure Skating in the Olympics in 1994 was the third highest rating sporting event in history.  The other top five events are ALL Superbowls.  F-yea figure skating- 10 points for Kim Kardashian-ing yourself into fame long before the sex tape!

Finally, I was psyched to find out that crowdfunding has found its way to the Olympics!  Using Crowdtilt, Indiegogo, and Dogecoin, fans funded the Jamaican Bobsled team’s trip to Sochi.  As a fundraising professional who works in the arts, I’m 1) thrilled that crowdfunding accomplished something so amazing and 2) know that growing up with the classic sports film, Cool Runnings influenced more than one of those donors to give to this incredible team.

So now I’m super exited for the Olympics, but not just to see incredible athletes achieving their lifelong dreams.  This year’s Olympics have provided a platform to discuss the movement towards gender equality and the power of crowdfunding.   One step at a time, right?

Also, I really, really, realllllllly hope that ABC Family will run a Cool Runnings marathon in the days leading up to the Olympics.  Anyone got a number at Disney Corp I can call to make that happen?