Friday, June 25, 2010

Run, Yoga, Wine and ... Wine?

After posting yesterday about time management, I decided to cram as much into my day as possible.  I was at work early (7:10am) and put in a non-stop day until 4:00pm when I went to the gym and pulled out a puke-inducing 20 minute speed workout on the treadmill.  I then went back to the office and finished up my work day so I could get onto the fun stuff - Yoga and Wine Tasting!!

Rob from Pops Fine Wine & Liquors in Easton, MA put on a great event with Revelation Yoga in Norton, MA.  Lets start with the yoga, shall we?

Revelation put on a 30 minute sample class with 15 minutes of Laughter Yoga and 15 minutes of Hatha Yoga.  This studio is absolutely beautiful and I thought all of the yoginis were great!

I was very excited that they were conducting a laughter yoga practice - I have seen this on various schedules and have been curious.  I have to be honest, it wasn't my thing.  But that is not to say it couldn't be your thing.  The 15 minute practice we engaged in involved making eye contact and laughing - for reasons I still cannot articulate, this made me very uncomfortable.  Generally I am fine with new people and do well in a group so I cannot explain my discomfort.  Though maybe this was part of exercise?  I would love to hear some other opinions if anyone has tried it? 

The Hatha Yoga, on the other hand, was great.  There was a real focus on deep breathing and we did a really fantastic rinsing twist of the spine.  I have been obsessed with twisting postures and breathing lately, so this was right up my alley.

I am actually considering signing on with this studio - it is close to my house, which is great.  And they are running a FANTASTIC promotion through August 18 - unlimited classes for 30 days for $50.  If you have looked into yoga classes before, you know this is a great deal. My only issue is with their schedule...its a close call with my commute so I have to think about it.  I'll keep you all posted.

Onto the wine!

I apologize for this awful picture...

After the yoga session, Pops put on a great tasting.  I think I have mentioned in the past that I go to a fair amount of wine tastings?  I have decided that I'll start sharing some of my finds!  Rob picked out some tasty, affordable, organic wines.  My favorites were from the Bonterra collection, most notably the Riesling ($12.99), which was more fruity than sweet - a fantastic summer wine!  He also had out a Dona Paula Malbec ($9.99) which I thought would be a great 'fire-pit' wine.  Overall, great tasting!

I left Revelation just in time to hit up a tasting at the Swirling Vine in Norton, MA (find them on facebook).  I  ended up buying two chardonnays from this tasting, one that I tasted and loved (MatchBook) and one that was recommended.  They're pictured below along with a dessert wine I buy at the Swirling Vine that is a steal at $10 ... AND it holds at room temperature for several weeks. (bottle previously opened and enjoyed)

All that and I was home by 8:10pm!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I often hear people say they don't have the time to exercise or they don't have the time to eat healthy.  The truth is, we all have the same number of hours in our day.  What we choose to do with those hours - our priorities - are what makes the difference.  People have jobs and they have kids and they have aging parents or other matters that require a certain amount of time everyday...that is to be expected.  The thing is that if you make your health a priority, you make the time to fit it in.  I find that, more often than not, people are just lazy and full of excuses.  I'm not judging here...I actually think that a lot of people don't even realize they are being lazy or that they are making excuses.  Personally, I try to avoid both those habits, but every once in awhile they will sneak in.  And then I have to confront myself....never a fun task.  But I think that if you are going to get serious about taking control of you own health, you have to make the decision to do it, make the time, follow-through and make excuses a thing of the past.

In general I try to fit in a quick yoga practice before work, eat breakfast, go to work, exercise on my break (whenever that may be), go back to work, go to whatever yoga class or networking event I have scheduled, then come home.  Due to work and work related activites, I am usually out of the house from 7:30am-7:30/8:30pm.  Organization is key to this schedule.

Because of my sometimes hectic and uncontrollable work schedule, this organization can get totally out of whack. Workouts are cancelled or moved, lunch is skipped, yoga is missed, dinners with friends are cancelled. This happens fairly frequently. My goal is to try and recognize when things are going to get out of control and make a plan...sometimes I fail there as well. Regardless, I try to make scheduled meals and workouts a priority. My workouts are in my Outlook and in my Blackberry.

There does have to be some flexibility to this organization of time.  There are a few days a week that I do not have yoga or a networking that case, if I do not have some other social commitment, I rush home to have dinner at the same time as Bill.  This happens maybe once or twice a week and I love the break from the contstant scheduled time.  On days when I have to be into work early or I cannot drag myself out of bed, I practice yoga after work and before dinner.  Last night was a rare occassion that I dragged out my yoga mat well after dinner and right before Top Chef.  There are also certain days or weeks (like, oh, this week) where I cannot fit in a run or a yoga class for the life of me...but I keep trying!

When I first started this blog, I could not imagine making time for one more thing.  But I find that once you start getting in the habit of organizing your time you discover you have way more of it than you originally thought.  Try it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Plank position.  Also known as torture.  If you are: 1) following The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess; 2) read Runner's World Magazine; or 3) practice yoga, you are familiar with the plank position.  It sucks. It has a cousin called 'side plank' that actually sucks more.  Shall we begin?

You need strong abs to support the rest of your body.  This is fantastic for yoga movement, protecting your back when lifting and running form.  Here's a good article explaining the ab muscles and how/what they support. 

This link has a good demonstration of the weight lifting or runner's plank/side-plank.  The basic idea is that you get into a low push-up on your forearms and form a straight line from shoulders to hips.  Suck in your tummy.  Ready?  Now start singing Yankee Doodle in your head.  Oh, you have a watch?  Awesome - time that sucker.  If you are watchless like...ahmm...some people ... 60 seconds is approximately 5 to 6 Yankees Doodles 'sung' at medium to fast pace.  When I first started doing planks I was around 15 seconds.  I am now up to a few sets of 60 seconds.  And I am sure New Rules has some additional torture in my future.

Plank in yoga is a little different.  You have read me go on and on about high to low plank.  If you practice a flow based yoga, you are very familiar with it.  Want a link?  You got it - You start in high plank and lower into low plank.  This movement is repeated numerous times during many of my practices and helps to reset the flow - but it takes ab muscle to support the movement.  For me, this is actually way harder than a runner's plank as it requires more arm strength...I have to drop to my knees to make it to low plank.  Here is the side plank variation, which I also have yet to master.

Why this lengthy post on plank?  Because my abs feel like they are trying to rip away from my musculature system at the moment ... Thanks New Rules.  But I know that when I head out for my run this afternoon and when I (hopefully) make it to yoga tonight, all this added core support will be worth this gut wrenching pain.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Count Something ... Anything!

After a weekend of summertime food splurges, I thought I would share with you all a post about counting.  I think counting is, essentially, the key to maintaining a balanced diet.  Counting what you ask?  Whatever you want!

I have counted various things over time.  I counted fat grams.  I counted points in Weight Watchers.  I counted servings according to the food pyramid.  And I have, of course, counted calories.  Counting forces you to be accountable (he he).

I turns out that I was - in my opinion - wrong to have focused on counting fat grams.  Its true that, in general, a lower fat diet will be lower in calories...but I also find a low fat diet is less satisfying.  I now aim for a 'regular fat' diet low in animal and saturated fats...but still keep tabs on how much overall fat I am taking in.

I found counting points in Weight Watchers very effective.  And actually, to kick start my weight loss this time around, I again turned to Weight Watchers to drop the initial 10 pounds or so.  I find counting points fairly mindless and easy to do.  I stopped doing it because I found the points too restrictive for my calorie needs in weight lifting, but still, it is a great starting point.  Also, as a side note, I never went to meetings and followed the plan online only.

I have also counted food servings and nutrients on  I am actually currently counting calories and servings on this website.  It has a few flaws, such as having a dairy requirement that doesn't take into account dairy substitutions.  And the database lacks some essential foods.  But it is free and breaks down all of your food choices into calories, vitamins, protein etc.  And, similar to Weight Watchers, it keeps track of your daily exercise to compare to your caloric intake.

Lately I have also been counting sugar and sodium intake.  Yeesh - this is a bit more troublesome...but basically if the food has nutrition facts, and I look at them, and the number seems high, I try not to eat it.  If the food does not have nutrition facts, hopefully it came from a tree, or a vine, or some such natural source.  This may not always work ... for example, yesterday I probably ate 4 handfuls of pretzel M&Ms ... hello sodium and sugar!!  But at least I was aware of the sodium and sugar I was shoveling into my mouth.

The idea here is to count something - anything - that will make you more mindful of what you are eating and how much you are eating.  I like online databases, but you could easily do this in a fun, pretty notepad too.  Or a boring notepad - whatever.  You could start by counting servings of water.  And then servings of veggies maybe?  Or how about noting down the amount of alcohol or sugared drinks you are taking in?  I think a little bit of awareness goes a long way.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


When I moved back to Massachusetts after school, I could not wait to have a place with my own garden.  The idea of growing my own veggies, working in my own yard was extremely appealing.  I was lucky enough to find a small house with a backyard just big enough for a garden and a fire pit.  The first summer I had the house I begged and begged my Dad to drop off some dirt.  I came home one day to a huge pile of dirt!!  Excited and undeterred, I went down the street, bought a shovel and started creating a garden.  And let me tell you, spreading dirt by hand is a lot of work!!  My garden that first year was a great success but it was a little small....  The next year I had Dad drop off even more dirt and I doubled the size of my garden...only to have it fail due to lack of time and awful rainy weather.

Total disappointment.

This year, I am on a mission.  With Bill's help, I turned over all last years dirt and started again, with great success.  Everything was coming in hardy, radishes were already set to go...then BAM.  Two weekends of rain.  Two weekends of rain are a disaster in a garden.  Thats two weekends of no weeding.  Two weekends of no upkeep.  Two weekends of weeds.


That is most definitely a weed garden!

This side of the garden actually features arugula, beans and tomatoes.  Really.

Yesterday I threw the idea of traditional exercise out the window, put on my crappy gardening clothes, hit up the local hardware/yard store and went to work.  Three and half hours later...

Gardens, like other areas of life will get out of control if you don't tend to them.  Just a few days of abandonment and you find yourself with a ton of work to get back on track.  But man, once you are back on track, it feels fantastic!  Bring on the tomatoes!!