Thursday, April 23, 2015

How To Stay Healthy and Active on the Road

I am often asked how I maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle when traveling (for work and pleasure). I've been traveling for business for just over 10 years now, and it definitely has taken conscious effort and planning to take care of myself when I’m away from the comforts of home and my normal routine. 

1) Be a Sherpa. Disclaimer – don’t bring everything, but definitely don’t be shy about bringing your go-to healthy stapes from home. Whenever I begin to pack, I tackle room by room. Here are a few highlights:

Closet: I’m sure to lay out enough gym clothes for a daily workout, even down to small comforts like my favorite headbands, lifting straps, Beats by Dre and barre socks (you never know when you’ll find a great studio!). My sneakers are literally the first thing I put in my suitcase – every.single.time.

Kitchen: Snack me up, buttercup!! I go to town packing my kitchen before a trip. I bring a shaker cup, protein powder (it’s hard eating a HEALTHY protein-rich diet on the road), bcaa’s, vitamins, and protein bars. Sometimes I’ll also pre-measure almonds (plain!) in little zip lock baggies so I have a quick snack high in protein and healthy fats in a pinch. 

2) Make smart decisions. When we’re on the road, we have access to conveniences we often don’t (not sure about you, but I don’t have a mini-bar stocked with gummy bears in my bedroom… although the idea does sound quite tempting!). Just because you have access to something doesn’t make it okay to eat/drink it!! Repeat after me – airport calories count! When I first began regularly traveling, I nailed down a little airport. As I made my way to my gate, I’d swing into one of the airport convenience stores and buy a bag of twizzlers and an InStyle Magazine. Thanks to the marketing geniuses at Twizzlers, their slogan “A Fat-Free Food!” totally duped me into thinking I was making a healthy choice in the world of candy. Do you know how many minutes of running you have to do to burn off FOUR of those things? TWENTY. That’s right. Twenty minutes to run off four little pieces. Let’s not even discuss how many are the in the package – or the fact that sometimes, when they got stuck together, I’d eat two at a time! Long story short(ish) – airport calories count. Now I always pack a Quest Bar and a piece of fruit in my purse, and purchase a bottle of water with my InStyle mag when walking to my gate. When we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail! 

3) Calories on the road count, too! Sorry for the redundancy, but it’s worth noting. For my fellow corporate travelers out there, how many times have you been lured in to eating a cookie the size of your head at an industry conference? I’ll admit that as a novice professional back when, I would succumb to those damn buffets way more times than not. Firstly, it’s free. Secondly, it’s tasty! Think about it: You travel to tradeshows – holed up in a hotel ballroom for 9+ hours a day – and they just roll in breakfast (pastries for days!), followed by a mid-morning snack (FULL-SIZE candy bars), lunch followed by dessert, an afternoon-snack (you guessed it, more sugar) and lastly, a happy hour chock full of sweet mixed drinks. If you’re not careful, you’re consuming double (if not triple!) your daily caloric intake without moving but a few feet through the course of the day. So remember – calories on the road count. Eat a protein-laden breakfast, make sure your lunch is jam packed with veggies and lean protein, and if you must indulge in a mid-afternoon snack, be sure you do so in moderation. Those calories add up fast, and once you factor in the fact that you’re barely moving during the day, it’s a dangerous and slippery slope if you’re not careful. 

4) Work out. It really fires me up when people say, “Oh I can’t work out when I travel for work, I never have time.” Yes you do. We all do. The question isn’t do you have time, it’s will you MAKE THE TIME? Now, if I weren’t willing to make sacrifices – aka: drink less at night and wake up at 5am – sure, I wouldn’t have time either. When I’m on the road, my day is usually booked from 7am – 6pm followed by a work dinner. If I don’t squeeze in an early morning workout before my meetings, it simply won’t get done. So I don’t make excuses – I get up, put in the work, and feel amazing the rest of the day. Sure, sometimes I cringe when my alarm blares at 5:30am, but my metabolism and mood are boosted for the entire day. I think it’s worth the sacrifice of 60 minutes of sleep. Don’t you?

To eat healthy and stay active while traveling is hard, but so is being unhappy with your body. Choose your hard. 

What about you? Any tips on how to stay healthy on the road??



Monday, April 20, 2015

The Time I Tried… to Enjoy the Journey

For some of us type-A folks, it can be frustrating going through life facing uncertainties and unknowns. Give us tangible results! We want to hold, touch and feel the fruits of our labor. We want to see the dividends of our hard work translated into real life. My philosophy to date has always been: determine what you want in life, then work your ass off for it. Thankfully, there have been few instances where I couldn’t work hard, stay resolute, and achieve what I set my mind to. For me, the sense of accomplishment is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.

But what about the occasions in which life doesn’t respond to “hard work” and steadfast determination? Sometimes, despite all the effort and desire, life flips you the bird and says, “Oh, you think you have it all planned out? Watch this!”

It’s in those moments where we should remind ourselves to take a deep breath and trust the process. We don’t know what the destination looks like, and we’ve already lived through the past, so in reality – we’re faced with one option. Enjoy the journey.

Often enough, we are all guilty of romanticizing the past. Remembering on the things we want to, or even worse, remembering things better than they actually were. I recently read a great article from Tiny Buddha authored by Erin Lanahan that talks about living in the now - and Erin goes on to say "Freedom is where my feet are." What an interesting concept - illustrating that our freedom lies within living in the present moment. Not allowing ourselves to long for things that never actually were, or living in fear of a future that hasn't occurred yet.

I think it’s all the little things – a phone call from a loved one, fresh flowers on your dining room table, kisses and tail wags from your pup, a great run on a sunny afternoon, a strong cup of coffee on a rainy Sunday morning, a kiss from someone who means something to you – that make up the bigger picture. All the simple pleasures in day-to-day life that we often rush by on our quest to be productive, to accomplish our goals and achieve milestones.

The underlying lesson in enjoying the small things hidden in our daily lives (for me, at least) has been learning to be patient. It doesn’t come naturally and each day I have to make a conscious effort to tell myself to slow down. Partial blame can be placed on the society in which we live – the age of instant gratification, the concept of maximizing efficiencies, and granting continuous access (to each other, to technology, to our jobs, etc.). Think about it. We’re all encouraged to do more with less, to be productive and proactive, and to take full advantage of every minute, of every hour, in every day. It’s like trying to cram 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag!

It’s true that none of us know quite what our futures look like, but I do wholeheartedly believe that life becomes just a bit sweeter if we remind ourselves to stop and smell the roses every now and again. We will all get where we’re going. And we will arrive when we’re supposed to. So in the meantime, I’ll take my eyes off the finish line and continue to enjoy the journey. 

What about you? Any creative ways you find to help enjoy the here and now? 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Get In the Driver's Seat of Your Own Damn Life

Do you hold yourself 100% accountable for what transpires in your life? Do you take ownership for your moods, the attitude you project, the actions you take and the words you speak? Do you recognize when you’re in the wrong?

When things go awry – you miss a deadline at work, you forget a close friend’s birthday, hurt someone you love, etc. - do you own the role you played and work to prevent repeating the same behaviors? When things don’t work out it is fairly easy for all of us to displace blame and avoid taking an introspective look and call our own selves out.

Yet how can we really grow and evolve as individuals without owning our “stuff?” If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, are we crazy to think repeating old patterns without ever self-correcting will bring us a different outcome?

  1)    Don’t be afraid. Jim Morrison said it best, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” So go face those fears. Heights, public speaking, intimacy, commitment… whatever has had a grasp on you, face it head on. Once you do, you’ll be free.
    2)    Accept yourself for who you are today. Maybe you aren’t exactly where you want to be, but you’re on your way. We all start somewhere.
    3)    Don’t rely on external sources for validation. Think about how powerful it would be if we stopped relying on mirrors and compliments to validate ourselves.
   4)    Forgive others. And yourself! We all screw up. If someone hurt you, forgive them. There’s a quote from Buddha, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Think about it. Release the anger/resentment/etc. and forgive – yourself and others.

If you ever feel like you’re not holding yourself accountable for the way things are going – why not begin today? Not too long ago, I went through a similar exercise. I prioritized my life - commitments, relationships, hobbies - and figured out which are priorities and which are options. Develop habits to help you become more accountable in every day life. Science says it takes 66 days to develop a new habit, and there's no time like the present. Similar to fitness - we grow stronger with each rep, with each run. If you want results, you have to put in the work. Start small and see the tangible impact your hard work has on your happiness. Sometimes we may not always know where we're going, or how we're going to get there - but one thing is for certain; It's pretty damn powerful to be in the driver’s seat of your own life. 



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

31 Things I’ve Learned in my 31 Years

It's just about that time... time to place another candle atop my birthday cake! I honestly cannot believe how fast time goes - it feels like yesterday I was ringing in the big 3-0. In any case, the past 31 years have bestowed so many invaluable lessons - here are just a few... hoping you all can relate!

1)     There is no secret pill – it takes working out and eating healthy. End of story.
2)     Working out fuels your heart, brain and soul. And makes shopping much more enjoyable.
3)     Give without expecting anything in return.
4)     Not all who wander are lost. It’s a big world out there – go explore it.
5)     Develop meaningful, long-lasting friendships.
6)     Our parents aren’t perfect. They’re doing the best they can. Love them unconditionally.
7)     Always have the courage to love one more time.
8)     Remember that person you thought you couldn’t live without? Look at you living and shit!
9)     Your grass will be greener where you water it.
10)   Take accountability for your thoughts, actions and words. You can’t take them back.
11)   Master a firm handshake and always make eye contact.
12)   Find a pair of yoga pants that make your ass look amazing. Buy them in every color.
13)   Learn to walk in sky high heels and invest in a few pairs. Trust me.
14)   Stop saying “it’s not fair.” Life isn’t fair. Put on your big girl panties and keep going.
15)   Order dessert.
16)   Read often.
17)   Be the girl girls want to be friends with. Most girls who says “girls are bitches” is a bitch herself.
18)   Cereal for dinner isn’t acceptable after age 22. Learn to cook.
19)   Don’t judge people. You don’t know their story. 
20)   Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Comparison will rob you of joy faster than you can imagine.
21)   Every day is a chance to start fresh.
22)   Never leave any words left unsaid. Never, ever.
23)   Don’t underestimate the power you have to influence someone’s life. Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.
24)   You deserve someone who makes your heart skip a beat. Don’t settle for less.
25)   Never say never. (excludes #22)
26)   Always speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.
27)   When it comes to drinking, quality over quantity is always a good idea.
28)   Don’t take life so seriously that you forget to laugh and make fun of yourself.
29)   When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
30)   Love like you’ve never had your heart broken.
31)   Be present. Life is short. Put down the phone and enjoy moments with loved ones. Make memories – they’ll last a lifetime.

What about you? Any life lessons too good not to share??


Friday, April 3, 2015

Why Marriage Before Age 30 Should be Illegal

You feel me?!

At this point, readers should be aware there’s no sugar-coating going on here. I write exactly what I feel, and sometimes it’s raw and uncensored. So if you strongly disagree with where this post is headed, that’s your opinion and this is mine. Variety is the spice of life.

Back to the subject at hand.

Sometimes, if we’re keepin it real over here, I wish when I told my parents at the ripe old age of 22 that I was getting married, they were legally able to send me to jail for a year. If I spent 365 days in an orange jumpsuit eating stale bread and sleeping on a mattress as thick as a piece of matzoh STILL wanting to be married, I could do so. In 7 years. When I turned 30.

Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s always easier to see the forest through the trees when you’re removed from the situation, but I have NO idea what on earth possessed my ex and I to make a lifelong commitment to each other without having our own individual identities first.

The young woman I was at 22 was na├»ve. I was eager to compromise, forsaking my own beliefs, my own convictions, just to be the image of what I believed the perfect wife to be. I put plenty of things on a shelf – including friendships, family, career, hobbies I wanted to pursue – all to support my ex as he completed law school, studied for three state bar exams, and dealt with the traumatic loss of his mother.

Now don’t mistake the message here. I’m no martyr. My ex was a fundamentally good person, and we divorced on as good of terms as two people could who were taking legal action to detach themselves from one another.

The nights watching TV with headphones on so he could study, our annual Vegas trip tradition (sweet baby Jesus, I hate Vegas), the Chihuahua I didn't want, the house he bought during a lunch hour without letting me see it… I was a willing participant in all of it. I always had the option to say no. To put my foot down. I chose not to. I thought if I appeased him, he’d be happy. Happy husband, happy life.

But what about happy wife? While I was so busy trying to make him happy, who was putting me first? No one, honestly. One major problem with getting married so young, is our communication skills are typically still operating at an elementary level. And when you don’t communicate, what happens? Building blocks of resentment pile up. One atop another. And next thing you know, you’ve built walls around yourself. You're unfullfilled and at a loss on how to “get your happy back.”

Our early 20s are also a time for exploration. Explore the world. Explore yourself. Explore others. Get out there and live life – figuring out what brings you joy and what brings you pain. If we prematurely attach ourselves to someone else, without having a clear understanding of who we are, how can we be the best version of ourselves for a partner?

There was a time when I hated the phrase “my other half” – shouldn't we be whole on our own? But what I’ve learned only after my marriage, divorce, and all the years thereafter… is that yes, we should first be whole. However, once we’re good and ready, it’s okay to want that better half. The yin to our yang. The peanut (or almond) butter to our jelly. The icing on our cupcake.

I think we’re all put on this earth to give and receive love. What a wonderful feeling it is to have someone on your mind before your mind shuts down to sleep, only to have them reappear again when you wake the following morning. Someone to lean on through life’s ebbs and flows. Someone to share the highs and lows of your day. A TV-watching, pizza-eating best friend who brings home your favorite flowers for no reason at all.

It’s not a sign of weakness to admit we want someone to complete us, once we're good and ready. Just be sure you know the reflection in the mirror, so as you lie next to that wonderful partner of yours, you both know exactly who they’re completing. 

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