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Posts Tagged ‘Food For Thought’

January 6, 2015

Challenge Word of the Year

Good morning, friends! I hope you have had a great start to your Tuesday so far. It’s been a very chilly one up here in Michigan!

milk frother for coffee

Please ignore the chapped hands holding that delicious cup of coffee. That was the result of me thinking I’m too cool to wear gloves for a walk to the mail box and back yesterday. I don’t know what I was thinking.

It was below ten degrees out. As in seven degrees. Yeah… I guess you could say it finally feels like a Michigan winter has arrived.

winter in our front yard

It’s a bummer we didn’t get snow for Christmas, but we have had a few snowfalls since the New Year! I’ll be happy if it stays calm with a thin layer on the ground this year. Last year’s Polar Vortex broke both the cold and snowfall records. There’s no need to have a repeat of that, amiright?

I was craving something warm for breakfast today, but wasn’t really feeling oatmeal. I gave my best effort at over medium eggs…

cooking eggs

Which, without a doubt, always turns into in-the-pan scrambling. It’s fine.

eggs and turkey bacon breakfast with fruit and coffee

I paired my eggs with a couple of slices of turkey bacon, grapes, and used a milk frother with a sprinkle of cinnamon to jazz up my coffee. Sometimes I just feel like being fancy like that. It reminds me of getting Starbucks, only at home and not $5 an order. #winning

I’m coming to you a little later than normal today because I’m trying to practice what I preach. Let me explain…

Challenge Word of the Year

(This could also be considered to be a Coffee Talk. Grab a cup and get comforable!)

Back at our church in Orlando, our pastor always gave us a challenge with the start of a new year. During the first service in January, he talked about reflecting on the year we just said goodbye to and asked us to take some time to think about what we really want to get out of the new one.

More than anything else, what is one thing you want to be committed to following through with?

This could be interpreted different ways to different minds, but to mine, this one word becomes my motto for the year. I write it everywhere I can and try to remind myself of it when I catch myself slipping back into old habits.

My word for this year is ENGAGE. And I’m not talking about the kind of engagement you have before two people get married, either.

I’m talking about engaging in the present at that moment in time. I’d like to get over stressing about things that happened in the past, or even things I might be worried about for the future.

I’m also talking about really paying attention to everything that is going on around me and giving my family, friends, conversations, and even phone conversations my absolute full attention.

2015 challenge word of the year

Too many times have I noticed couples or even groups of people out to dinner and one or more of them seems to be attached to their smartphone. As a blogger, I feel connected to mine to have accessible to take photos and such, but I have really given a solid effort at only using it for pictures while we are out of the house lately.

There’s a time and a place to scroll through your social media pages, check into places, and check emails. The couple of hours you gathered to meet with your friends or have a date night with your significant other is not one of those times.

I have gotten pretty good at dropping all of those habits once I get out of the house, but it tugs at my heart when I see other people doing it, especially if I can tell the people surrounding them are annoyed. Or, even worse, if both parties are totally disconnected from interacting with each other because they have both of their noses stuck in their phones.

I see commercials on television showing families doing this exact thing at the dinner table. The mom is on the phone, the dad is checking something on his laptop, and both children are entertaining themselves with either a game or facetime on their own devices. What’s the point of having dinner together if nobody is engaging in what is going on right in front of them?

Like I mentioned above, I have become pretty good at staying off of my phone when I am out to dinner and socializing. Every now and then I catch myself filtering or messing with a photo to post on Instagram while my friends are still around, and I get embarrassed. Things like that can always wait for later.

So, my challenge word for the year is engage. Not just to physically be engaged in what is going on around me, but also mentally. I mostly need to work on enjoying the present by leaving other thoughts of things I need to do when I get home or posts I need to write out of my mind until it comes time to complete those tasks. My challenge is to live in the moment and make the best out of every one I can in 2015.

Questions of the Morning

• What is your challenge word this year?

• What is your favorite way to cook eggs?

I would love to master all of the “over” styles: over easy, medium, and hard. You’d think over hard wouldn’t be that difficult. I should probably give it a try one of these days…

See you back later this afternoon!

August 7, 2014

The Importance of “Me” Time and How To Get It

Good Afternoon! I’m currently coming to you from a Panera since I felt like working outside of the house today.

I guess the food had something to do with it too… I am loving the You Pick 2 and especially this vegetarian summer corn chowder paired with half a chicken cobb with avocado salad!

panera chicken cobb salad and corn chowder soup

Being here makes me realize how much I miss seeing and interacting with human beings more than just a small portion of my day.

I know I have mentioned it a few times already, but as the summer comes to a close and the fall approaches, I am hoping to pick up work at a studio or gym to be able to put my CPT to use by teaching and/or coaching, and really can’t wait for it.

For now, I am pressing on by studying as much as I can to get there, while getting the most of my summer. I realize that earned vacation time also comes with a job, so I am trying to soak up as much flexibility in my schedule as I can while I still have it.

I received an intriguing question on Tuesday’s Ten Reasons to Start Running post and thought I would answer it through another. It was about what I do and how I fit in “me time”, and how that affects my relationship.

This should be fun!

The Importance of “Me” Time

Going off of how I opened this post, I’m sure you can gather that I get plenty of “me” time in these days. With family and childhood friends states away, Scott at work and out of the house, and zero (un-furry) kids to take care of, I actually spend a lot of my day with me, myself, and I. It’s great. I think I’m either a blast, or super lame. Usually one of those two extremes.

That being said, I don’t have to put much effort into getting my “me” time which is both a blessing and a curse. But I used to. Back in Orlando, I worked two and sometimes three jobs on top of blogging which was always a challenge to fit in anything “me” into my schedule.

I know it’s hard for a lot of you (and believe me, I give extreme kudos to both the working and stay-at-home parents out there!), but finding even a hint of “me” time is so important both for you and your loved ones.

Aspen says relax

I’ve found that if I’m overstressed, run down, or even letting my mind wander to a million places for too long, I’m not the most pleasant person to be around. It’s kind of like when you’re hungry and cranky because of it… but for days and weeks at a time. Not the best situation.

Whenever I realize I am getting close to a breaking point, I make fitting in some kind of “me” time a priority. Even if it is for thirty minutes. No matter what you tell yourself, folding the laundry can wait, the dishes will still be in the sink when you return, and your attitude of completing the often annoying tasks life requires of you will seem like less of a burden. Promise.

How To Get It and Fit It Into Your Schedule

I already shared that running is a huge mental release and excuse for “me” time with you, and just behind that is any form of fitness, really.

Whether it is going to a group fitness class with my friends or hitting the weight machines with my ear buds in, I choose to break a sweat for myself and nobody else. (Well… maybe this guy from time to time.)

running trails while its sprinkling

On the busier weeks where I just “don’t have time” to workout, I notice a huge change in my overall health and attitude. I intentionally quoted “don’t have time” because there is always time if you make it a priority. You may have to wake up before 5 a.m. to do it, but still… that’s time. (I know, I’m being really unforgiving here… but am I right?)

When I take a break from working out on a regular basis I feel tired, weak, and extra slow doing every day normal things. Like climbing stairs, for instance. It’s crazy to think that something physically demanding actually makes me feel more energetic and rejuvenated, but it’s completely true.

elliptical workout

So there is the long answer to why I love working out so much! It makes me feel great, and also allows “me” time. Two birds with one stone.

The biggest trick to fitting “me” time into your schedule is to look for it in things or activities you already do.

You don’t have to have a day of pampering at the spa to enjoy time to yourself. There are small things you could do every single day that you might be overlooking. Things that if you made a point to do on your own or without distractions, could be just the “you” time you need and are longing for. Here are some of my suggestions:

• go for a walk

If you are dog owner, you already have a reason to get out of the house, up to three or four times a day! Even on the days where I think I’m too busy to go for a thirty minute walk, I do it anyways and always return in a much better mood. I am one who truly thrives off of being outdoors.

Neighborhood Walk

When I used to teach barre classes in Orlando, I always took my break between classes to walk ten minutes to get a smoothie and back. I could have easily packed a lunch, but instead, I craved the sunshine and outside environment. I miss my daily walks in Winter Park every day I don’t take one!

• live in the moment

This is something I constantly try to get my mother to do, and need to listen to my own advice on as well. Enjoy what is happening in your life at that moment in time, and drop your worries about anything else that may be going on or coming up.

I used to hate Sunday nights with a passion when I worked a full time 9-6 Monday through Friday office job. I literally became irritable and grumpy by 7 p.m. every single week.

Instead of enjoying the final hours of down time at home and getting ready for the work week, I would wallow in my own brought on annoyances about having to go to work and it would totally ruin my night. Silly, right?

Blogging has been an interesting turn in a career for me. It still isn’t completely full time, but it’s definitely a job that I take with me on vacation. It used to stress me out to have to plan a ton of posts in advance just to keep it running while I was away, or even worse, blog while I am trying to refresh and disconnect.

But the more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve realized that blogging in real time while I am away is actually fun!

walking streets of paris with scott

I love sharing my experiences with you guys. And if I don’t get around to posting twice or even once a day when I am gone, it’s really not the end of the world.

I have finally learned to just enjoy a day off instead of thinking about everything I need to do on the next one.

• meditate

Confession: I have never really meditated… outside of a yoga class, anyways. I have heard that taking even five minutes of your morning to sit or lay in complete silence to reflect on your own thoughts and self can be life changing. I really should try it, and think you should too! Five minutes!

• get ready for no reason at all

This may not seem fun for some of you, but as someone who basically lives in yoga pants eighty percent of the time, I love getting ready to go somewhere. It’s annoying to think about (at first), but once I start blow drying my hair, getting an outfit picked out, and doing my makeup, I absolutely love it.

I turn up the jams in the bathroom and truly love every minute of getting ready to go somewhere.

Even if I don’t have anywhere to be, I sometimes take the time to style my hair or put on minimal makeup just because. Part of me misses having to do it on a regular basis.

Getting ready for boot camp auditions

I realize that for some (especially new) mothers out there, even getting a shower is a luxury. I am the furthest from speaking from experience here, but if you are like me and enjoy your getting ready time, take the pack and play into the bedroom or bathroom with you. I’m sure your child will get plenty of entertainment from you singing along to the old school throwbacks.

• stay in your pajamas on the weekend

On the other end of the spectrum, and to those of you who have have jobs that require you to get dressed up or look presentable every day, try not doing that on the weekends. Even for a couple of hours.

As an NBA dancer who constantly had to do my hair and makeup what seemed like every single day, I valued the mornings I could leave my pajamas on for half a day, or even go to the grocery store with my hair in a bun and without my face on. It’s liberating!

• have a glass of wine or make “coffee time”

I throw this into the meditation category, since you can do something as easy as enjoy a beverage in five minutes time.

I really, really value my coffee time in the mornings. I will get up an extra ten minutes earlier just to assure I can pour a hot cup o’ joe in a mug and either catch up on emails and blog comments or sit by the window and watch the squirrels with Roadie.

saturday morning coffee

I realize this time will most likely disappear when we have children, and when that time comes I’m not quite sure how I will handle it. I might actually start looking like Grumpy Cat.

But, if that happens, I will probably switch to decaf or cash in my pass for one glass of red wine a day. After the day slows down and the kids go to sleep, that’s my (insert hot or cold beverage of choice) time. If you don’t already, please, try it!

• take the scenic route, on purpose

This is one I don’t get to do all that often. I have the time to myself, however, I don’t currently have my own set of wheels.

Some of my favorite drives have been by myself on the way home from work in Orlando, just aimlessly driving. I would roll down the windows, put my sunglasses on, and belt out whatever was playing on my car speakers. It was the best and doubled as a form of therapy.

rainbow on the drive home

It wasn’t uncommon for me to take the longer route home, on purpose, either. I did that all the time. I made my fifteen minute car ride ten extra minutes by taking the back roads instead of the highway and absolutely loved it!

• get a workout or hobby buddy

If you have someone you have to meet somewhere, you are more likely to follow through with it. Whether it’s going to a group fitness class or joining a book club, grab a friend or a group of them and commit to something that gets you out of the house on a regular basis.

Although you aren’t technically alone, knowing you have that time scheduled in to get away will be good enough!

• learn to say no

Over the past couple of years, I have finally understood the concept of saying no. I used to agree to do anything, even if I didn’t really want to, but these days I take a good look at what is going on in my life and my schedule before I commit to things.

This could even include outings. Sometimes I’m just not feeling going out on the town with Scott and his buddies, even if there will be other girlfriends or wives there. Occiasionally, I need to catch up on pointless television like Hit the Floor (seriously… it’s ridiculous and over-the-top dramatic) and just exist. Preferably in sweatpants with some form of ice cream.

relaxing and reading

Scott has learned this about me, and accepted it. If it is an important event, I will always be there for him, but if it is something he really doesn’t mind me missing, I will opt out if I feel like I need time to decompress alone. Our relationship has only gotten better because of it!


While it may seem like a challenge, it really is essential for everyone to get a little “me” time in every now and then. It’s during this time where you can fully let go of everything that takes up your stress or worry and just enjoy things for what they are.

Read a book. Take your child to the playground (preferably one that isn’t crowded!). Take a nap. Lie in a hammock. Try out a new recipe. Do something you want to do that doesn’t have to involve a babysitter and a full day off from life.

Take the effort to enjoy the little things you can fit in every day that will instantly enhance you, your producitivity, and your mood!

Questions of the Afternoon

• What is one thing you enjoy doing for “you” time?

• To the mothers (both working and stay-at-home mommies!): what are some tips for fitting in desperately needed “you” time?

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Although I am a certified personal trainer, the workouts I post are what work best for me and might not be the right type of exercises for you.

I am not a registered dietician and do NOT post everything I eat. All content I post on this blog stems from my personal experience and knowledge, and I recommend consulting a doctor or health professional before making changes to your diet or fitness routine.

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