Category Archives: about me

Joy is…(Wedding Things Edition)

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.  – Marianne Williamson

To any and all who have planned a wedding/ life event, no matter what size or destination, you know this week is filled with all the brain chaos! Every single contingency runs through your head at least 50 times; the mental dream of things running perfectly smooth is elusive. But at the root of this mind-screw is, hopefully, a feeling of joy you’ve yet to fully experience.

Life is about to change, in a BIG way. You’re about to partner up with your favorite person in this world, for life. And that never actually seems to feel “real”. (At least not yet…)

Before I know it, this week will have come and gone oh so quickly, I’ll have put a ring on him and life moves on! So, until then…

Joy is…

…bringing your East coast + Midwest friends and family into the California sunshine for the weekend! You’re welcome, guys. We love you.

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….involving great friends in the process, and being like whoa, our friends are really f-ing talented. (As seen below, thanks to The Paper Vault!)

H and M Invite front

….finding a catering company that operates their own micro-farm and uses these love-grown vegetables to fire up their “live grill!” at every event. Yes, we’ll have that.

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….the phenomena of  people from all of your different life circles gathering in one place, at one time. And knowing this only happens once.

…the potential of  photos like these to add to the best-life-people virtual scrapbook. Kelci, your job will be easy! These are willing subjects.

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jasonIMG_2252 Cozumel Captainsstmichaels_headstands 
1923408_577022165884_8057_n  Sciupacs_6.14.14

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Hellyer Half_Running Together

At the end of the day, the joy is simply in knowing I get to run
life’s biggest adventure yet
with this guy.

——

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Life with Micro-Adventures

On at least two of my weekly runs I tune into the Art of Adventure podcast led by fellow blogger Mary Loudermilk’s husband, Derek. They’re living it up as true adventurers in Ubud for the time being – which is fascinating in and of itself – but he interviews life adventurers every week! The episode always ends with this question: What does adventure mean to you?

Two answers have stuck with me:

Adventure is a roller coaster of {emotions} and transformation.
Ericka Dhawan

Adventure is indulging your sense of wonder.
Shane Snow

Last month’s Outside Magazine featured various Happiness Hypotheses, as part of a “Happy + Healthy 2015” spread. Christopher Keyes wrote one that straight up defines how we’re trying to live life here during our relatively short stint in California: “Microadventures amp up your mood.”

Chance of success? Slam Dunk.

Asilomar Beach Sunset Surfer

Two weekends ago we decided to take an overnight trip to San Luis Obispo (SLO), because why not? We had nothing stopping us (see: obligations, schoolwork, wedding work) and we keep saying “We should go to SLO”. So, we went. This was planned in a manner of minutes on Thursday evening, and by Saturday afternoon there we were driving along the most beautiful highway in the nation (imo) with the sun out, windows down and Taylor Swift blasting. We stopped at Big Sur Bakery for a treat, because that’s what you do, and we pulled over to stare at (uh, quite disgusting) elephant seals yelling at each other but barely bothering to move.

Bixby Bridge Highway 1_DOTR

Sunday morning we decided to run around SLO and then hike, because according to our “Central Coast Day Hikes” book, there were quite a few options and we have a long list to start checking off!  And apparently we also had “hike above the fog and literally be on top of the clouds” to check off, too.

SLO hiking_DOTR

SLO hiking plank_DOTR

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Micro-adventures*: impromptu outings to take advantage of where you live and why you live. Seeking things that bring you joy. Wondering about your surroundings, and indulging that curiosity with experience. Not wasting any more time because there just isn’t enough of it; you do what you prioritize. Excursions that bring transformation.

*as defined by yours truly.

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These micro-adventures should be anything but overwhelming. They can be a quick weekend road trip, or an impulse flight purchase, OR they can simply be running on a new-to-you trail, trying a new restaurant, or choosing to spend Tuesday night watching the sunset on the beach because life won’t always present you with this opportunity on any night of your choosing.

Asilomar Sunset Surf

The sunset we decided to catch after our usual run through the Farmer’s Market.

No matter what your micr0adventure list looks like, it should bring you joy and transformation. It should change the way you look at something.

It should just feel like the best thing to do in that moment.

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What are some of your favorite ways to get in “micro” adventures? I’m taking tips to add to our growing list.

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YTT: Behind the Maya (Veil)

Throughout the course of our 200-hour yoga teacher training(YTT), we have to observe class at least 3 times. One thing you rarely, if ever, consider as a student is the structure behind 60-90 minutes of a yoga flow. And with good reason! There’s some magic in the not knowing, just listening, doing and digging around your brain.  And trying to keep your hips closed or feet balanced. That may be all you ever think about – that ish isn’t easy!

I remember my first few yoga flows in Denver, when all the things began to click, leaving class in a mysterious state of bliss. Like, man, if only people knew that sanity is so accessible and a high is so easily reached without having to do much besides roll out and step onto the mat! I remember walking out of studios way above cloud 9, craving and seeking that mental massage more and more. Running is great, sure – but yoga? Puts you on a different level.

How?

I’m learning (as you may have guessed). And part of that involves stepping behind the veil/illusion (or maya, in sanskrit). Erasing a little bit of the “magic”. Setting up props for the Scene, and watching the Director work. (In our YTT Director’s Chair: Coral Brown.)

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Did you know:

– Most classes build you up to a Peak Pose. You may not always recognize what this pose is, but the asanas (poses) leading up to it all have a specific purpose (e.g. open your hips, warm-up your back, engage your core, loosen your hamstrings, etc.)

– (Prana*) Vinyasa Flow classes will always start with sun (or moon) salutations, called “Namaskars”. Depending on the teacher, you may do a few different variations of classic sequences. This warms you right up!

– Every pose has a counter-pose. It’s all about balance, yo.

– There is always purpose behind the sequencing. It may seem as though you just aimlessly move from one sequence to the next, but know that the teacher’s mind is always taking you down a specific, planned out, path.

*This is the type of teacher training I’m completing – Prana Vinyasa Flow.

Sitting back, behind mayas, and watching a full hour of yoga without doing anything but observing is a completely different experience. I noticed so much more than I would have if I were on the mat. My mind wasn’t focused on meditation, but rather on learning and piecing together. I was a little jelly of everyone getting their asana-on. I was awake and alert while they blissed out in savasana. Not the same! But the totally-worth-it reward will be leading a full class through a similar journey sooner than later. Paying more attention to what’s behind-the-veil shifts your experience on the mat, but it also means I soon get to create my own story, bhav and flow, and see what happens.

For now, I’m still reading the script. (5o hours in)

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Avoiding Decision Fatigue: Why I eat eggs for breakfast everyday

There’s something to be said for food habits. I once survived on the following: oatmeal for breakfast, turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread for lunch (with lettuce, cucumbers & salsa) – possibly a chocolate pudding or just chocolate, yogurt somewhere for a snack, carrots/chips+salsa while cooking, some version of “grilled” chicken + veggies/pasta for dinner. Maybe an Oreo or small bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats for dessert. Every day.

I’m not kidding at all. And this was during and probably for a while shortly after my college days (studying Nutrition Sciences). Take that as you will…

Usually no mind was paid to the fact that I very often ate the same thing, or some very slight variation of it (depending on dining hall, apartment grocery stash, or internship funds availability), for every meal, every day. If I was questioned, my only justification was “it’s what I like…”. I thought that was true. If I look back on it now, I think two things: 1) it kept my grocery shopping and bills simple & consistent (you know, no-income days!) and 2) it kept decision-making to a minimum. (Brain space was free to learn and have college / no-FT-job-days fun!)

Let’s talk about the latter – Decision Fatigue.

Research suggests we pull from a pool of will-power and decision-making power every day, which like most pools, can be drained. Depleted. Donezo. In a similar thread, the hypotheses suggest our brain fatigues, just like any other muscle. We can make up to X tough decisions per day, feeling strong and in control, until we aren’t. By the time the choice between Y & Z comes up, we’re at a loss. The easy, well-paved path, is taken – with a side of light remorse and defeat for dessert.

There may be more to stress eating, to the gravitational pull of comfort foods, and to giving into cravings in a brief moment of weakness. Maybe not always, but maybe sometimes those moments happen because the hours leading up to them have exhausted you in some way or another. You’ve had to pull from that will-power bucket too many times in one day; your decision-making muscle has been lifting 20-lb weights all day when it’s so used to the 10 pounders.

Remember Steve Jobs in his outfit of choice? Black turtleneck and jeans. Recognize Mark Zuckerberg by his signature hoodie + t-shirt look?

From Business Insider’s article on the latter:

He said even small decisions like choosing what to wear or what to eat for breakfast could be tiring and consume energy, and he didn’t want to waste any time on that.

I may not have nailed this down until more recently, but it’s so clear now. Decision Fatigue: the struggle is real. It’s been years since I had the same exact thing for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks every day. (It’s also been a long time since chocolate pudding or Oreos saw the inside of my grocery cart.) But even recently,  for a long time, I had oatmeal + peanut butter every single morning. Last year I switched to a more protein-based breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with kale and chopped veggies (peppers, onions, tomatoes / whatever we have leftover), 1/2 avocado and a banana.  And Sriracha.

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It feels good to have breakfast habits. I like having the same thing most days. Now I know why: because it feels good to start your day without having to make decisions! I like what I like. I get variety during the rest of the day, and my brain is ready and happy to make those choices.

Other ways to avoid decision fatigue:

– Minimize your wardrobe. Throw out half of that stuff you haven’t worn in months, or years, anyway.

– Develop a few healthy food habits/staples and you’ll make grocery shopping easier, minimizing impulse buys. See also: meal planning!

– Have an exercise routine or work with a coach. Take the guesswork out of the day and you’ll be more likely to not only go workout, but also to stick to it. (This is easily one of the best choices I’ve made in the past year.)

– Recognize the days where it may set in, and make things easier on yourself by making a few choices ahead of time (pack lunches & snacks on stressful work days; have a go-to outfit for presentations or VIP meetings; set up a training plan for a “crazy week”).

Perhaps more importantly, get to know yourself. Recognize those times where you “give in” and take a few steps back. Do a mental rewind through your day – what made your brain tired? What was different about today vs. yesterday? What choices have you had to make that depleted your buckets? Every time you do this, your buckets get deeper. Your brain can take on more ‘weight’. You’ll make better decisions.
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Additional Reading:

Slate.com – Drowning in Jam: How to conquer decision fatigue

NYT WellBeing Blog  – Do you suffer from decision fatigue?

BusinessInsider.com – Here’s the Real Reason Mark Zuckerberg Wears the Same T-shirt Every Day

The Strength Model of Self-Control – Baumeister, Vohs & Tice (FSU & Univ of Minnesota)

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(Run) Refueling: What’s with the time window?

I recently signed on to hone my Sports Nutritionist skills by working one-on-one with Team Amazing Day athletes and friends (open to anyone!). Sports and exercise present a world of opportunities for dietitians and nutritionists alike, one that has always interested me as a former ‘athlete’ (if we count high-school soccer and the 18-yr-old- identity-crises of no group sport experiences that happens after graduation –> endurance running!) and now aspiring runner. I’ve learned both by coursework and trial and error as an endurance runner in training (est. 2008), and continue to be fascinated by the peculiarities of fueling and refueling – unique to individuals, but the bones of which are essentially the same no matter what your sport of choice.

Nancy Clark reigns as the Sports expert in our dietetic world, and apparently travels around the States with her wealth of knowledge. Lucky for me, she stopped by San Jose, CA with Dr. Jon Ivy last weekend. She was once featured on a box of Wheatie’s, which is indisputably the sign you’ve “made it” in Sports, no?

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A “recap” could be 10+ pages long, and potentially mind-numbing for some. Instead, for today, let’s talk Timing + Refueling – one of the most important nutritional considerations for any runner, swimmer, cyclist, triathlete, {insert endurance sport}. It’s how you recover; how you adapt your muscles to the stresses of training so that the next workout can be harder, faster or longer. The foods and drinks that enter your system immediately after any given workout decide whether you prolong the inflammation and muscle breakdown, or whether you reverse it.

Run Refuel Recovery Brunch DOTR

No matter what level you’re training at – for health, sanity, elite competition or somewhere in-between – you’ll hear at one point or another that it’s important to get “Carbs and Protein!” pretty quickly after a hard workout. Specifically, you may have also heard that “after” should be within a 30-60 minute window.

WHY?

Why refuel within 30-60 minutes? Right after (any type of) exercise the body is more sensitive to nutrients, specifically carbohydrates and protein. We burn through carbohydrates for fuel while exercising; it comes from the blood stream (if you’ve had a meal) and the muscles (which we store up). However, this “increased sensitivity”, readiness / whatever you’d like to call it, ONLY LASTS for about one hour.

What happens after one hour? You’ve missed the golden window. You’re no longer as sensitive to the hormones and little cells running around hoping to grab onto carbohydrates and protein to fix all the “damage” (see: training stress) you just did! They become discouraged, we’ll say. They start looking around anxiously for other ways to fill the gaps. They deplete internal sources, and, here’s the kicker: begin to break down muscle tissue for protein.

….and that will result in the exact OPPOSITE of what you’re probably hoping to gain from your exercise / training.

But when you do it right, consuming a substantial meal or snack within 30-60 minutes after a workout* (run, bike, swim, etc), here’s what happens:

  • Carbohydrates go through the expressway to the muscles, replacing the energy you just spent. This means the next time you head out for another workout (which will probably be soon), you’ll have a full tank! Cells all plumped up with sugar (glycogen) and ready to go.
  • Carbohydrate intake turns on insulin release (a hormone that moves digested carbohydrates (glucose) around the blood to muscles and organs). Insulin HELPS ACTIVATE protein synthesis. I.e. Carbs help speed up the process that will repair your broken-down (thanks to exercise) muscle tissue.
  • Muscles have their hands out waiting for protein. They want to fix the damage you’ve done, and quickly! Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) necessary to help you do that. It goes straight to work repairing tissues and fibers and building strength. So, guess what? Next time you workout, you’ll be just a little bit stronger!
  • Your muscles are happy, healthy and ready for the next adventure. Read: they’re recovered. And adapting to the hurdles you keep throwing their way.

*The amount of fuel you need after a workout depends on your fitness level, the exercise length and intensity.

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Next up: what’s a “substantial” meal or snack? Why are we shouting  about CARBS AND PROTEIN so specifically??

Any other questions I can help answer? Throw ‘em my way in the comments.

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