Tag Archives: Health

Prioritize sleep.

I missed an entire night of sleep this week (baby Nick were at the hospital– he was having a little respiratory trouble, but is much, much better).  Remember when we were in college and did that on purpose, stay up all night?  I’d like to travel back in time and give 2004 Elizabeth a real talkin’ to.  

And while I’m at it, I might as well travel back even further and tell 1982-ish Elizabeth that staying up all night and skipping naps is just wrong.  Plus, it’s a crime against your sleepy parents. 

34-year-old me cannot hang on no sleep.  And even on a good night, I could stand to catch a few more hours of sleep.  I’m guessing you can relate.

September sunsets are pretty great. So is sleeping for more than 2 hours and 12 minutes per night.

September sunsets in South Boston are pretty great. As is sleeping for more than 2 hours and 12 minutes per night.

So I’ve become obsessed with learning how to prioritize sleep.  How to fall asleep sooner.  How to stay asleep longer.  How sleep affects our brains and our bodies and our moods and how many plates of nachos we want to eat and/or actually eat.


A few things that have caught my attention:

prioritize sleep bath

Spoiler alert: If it works for you, do it.  (Slight bummer: It doesn’t work for everyone.)  A good soak definitely seems to help me quiet my mind and relax my body after a long week.  I love this epsom soak, especially after a tough workout.

prioritize sleep book

I really enjoyed this book (and it is little, relatively speaking, perfect for overtired readers).  There’s an entire section devoted to sleep, one of the master keys of health, as Dr. LoGuidice calls it.  

  • Sleep Like a Champion: Sleep Tips for Athletes from Casper

prioritize sleep casper

We’re big fans of Casper (even Clark, who has never missed a minute of sleep in his life and is currently cuddled up on the Casper dog bed Nick recently ordered for him), and I thought this info sleep stages, in particular, was interesting.  I know my fellow Mama Beasts and I are likely years (decades?) away from getting 10 hours of sleep, but I like knowing that any increase in quality sleep could improve our speed, reaction time and overall athletic performance.  And maybe it’s time I learn to nap when the babies nap.

This gentle, nighttime flow is heaven.

prioritize sleep smoothie

Kale, check. Yogurt, check. Banana, check.  Seasonally inappropriate glass, check.

Even better: Most of these are already in my kitchen — tart cherry juice (also great for workout recovery), yogurt, whole grains, kale, bananas… even Cheerios.

This is one my go-to tricks for falling asleep quickly.  It’s sort of like counting sheep, but with, like… breathing.  It seems a little weird, but trust me.  Try it.

On that note… time for a responsibly early bedtime.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have a bedtime routine?  


Today: January goals (and a printable calendar).

Hello from the other siiiiiide of New Year’s Eve.

(For the record: Now that we’re nearing a month of newborn-related sleep deprivation, everything I say and do is the funniest thing ever… to me, at least.  It would seem my siblings feel differently.  Either that or their phones are broken in such a way that they cannot reply to my hilarious bitmoji texts.)

January goals and a printable calendar

january goals and a printable calendar

Materials used: Micron pen (black 01), Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens, Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolors, random craft paint (acrylic), good old Microsoft Word (for the calendar table)

My questionable comedienne status aside, it is New Year’s Day and I’ve got January goals and a printable calendar to share with you.  Rather than setting year-long resolutions, I’m sticking to monthly goals and intentions.  Mostly because I can barely imagine what tomorrow will bring, let alone how many days I can deprive myself of Diet Coke come November.  

The calendar is a part of a larger goal I have to both make and share more art.  Please feel free to share, download and print as you like.  Consider it a gift to offset the un-funny Adele joke above.  And unless I completely space out, I’ll draw and paint a new calendar for you on the first of each month.

click here to download your free, printable January calendar

Here are the rest of my January goals, semi-organized for your reading pleasure.


  • Celebrate Grace’s 2nd birthday in style (…whatever that means)
  • 2 trips to the children’s library
  • Photograph Grace and (baby) Nick and send out New Year’s cards/birth announcements (we sort of missed the boat on Christmas cards)
  • Listen to Serial with (adult) Nick each week (Nerdtown, USA: Population of 2)


  • Schedule doctor’s and dentist’s and vet’s appointments for the beginning of the year
  • Get back in the workout groove (after being cleared to exercise at my six week postpartum check-up) and share weekly round-ups for accountability and motivation
  • Drink fewer than 600 Diet Cokes a week
  • Wear FitBit every day (this feels like a do-able precursor to setting a daily step or sleep goal)
  • Set aside 10 minutes each day to make something (and make peace with the fact that these “somethings” will likely take days or weeks to be finished products)


  • Throw out, recycle or donate everything
  • Make a list of specific spaces in our condo to tackle and start chipping away at the decluttering
  • Hire a new housecleaner (we parted ways with ours in December, and I am not an especially talented duster… and let’s just say, both are evident)
  • Participate in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure


  • Join a new parish (this is sort of major, and in the works — we love our current parish, but will be moving to one in our own neighborhood this year)
  • Participate in at least one of my fitness group’s social activities (the group has monthly birthday parties for kids, a mom’s night out, recipe swaps, etc.) rather than ducking out right after the workout, as I’ve done in the past #awkwardfaceemoji
  • Share at least one friend’s blog post or project per week

Here’s to a productive, happy, healthy, sort-of-hilarious month.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your January?

Today: Feeding baby, Part I (and a Delta Labs giveaway)

Sort of obvious disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding.  If Google brought you here because you searched for “breasts” and now you’re sorely disappointed and regret clicking through, that’s okay.  You do you, boo… no judgement.  

Slightly less obvious disclaimer: I am not, like, a breastfeeding specialist.  I am grateful to be able to breastfeed my daughter.  It is what I hoped for, and it is what works for our family.  With that said, it is not the only way people care for and feed their children.  And I feel like that’s important to acknowledge.  Something I think all parents need to hear more of: You are doing a good job.  You are making good choices. In other words: You do you, boo… no judgement.  

Real talk of the day: Being a parent means being on a permanent learning curve.  (I guess that’s true for all humans, though, right? Life is one long learning curve.)  Now that we’re past the newborn phase, I figured I’m semi-qualified to share a bit about what I’ve learned along the curve.

I was very fortunate to have access to great lactation consultants when Grace was born.  Expectant mother friends, if you have access to lactation consultants while you’re in the hospital, I think it’s totally worth meeting with them.  I was hesitant, I thought it would be weird, and I kind of just wanted to stay in my Craftmatic adjustable hospital bed.  It wasn’t weird.  It was actually quite, well, normal.  They taught me very helpful things like how to hold my tiny baby like a football (but first, I needed to learn how to hold a football), how to tell if she was actually eating, and what hunger cues might look or sound like.

Someone’s ready for their 22nd meal of the day.

It didn’t long for us to establish a BF relationship (in this case, I like to think BF stands for both breastfeeding and best friends… but I guess that last part is sort of up to Grace).  Because Grace was born with jaundice (I initially thought she was just super Portuguese…) and lost weight rather quickly, our pediatrician encouraged us to feed Grace at least every 2 hours during those first weeks.   Needless to say, by the time she was a month old, I felt like a seasoned BF pro.  I also felt like my bum was permanently attached to the rocker in Grace’s nursery, but hey.

I rarely had time to pump when I was on maternity leave, so when I went back to work, I felt acutely aware of being on that learning curve again.  I stared at the woman on the package of my pumping bra and wondered, Who the H looks that casual and yet perfectly put together while pumping?  Why is there no spit up in her hair?  Why does she look so well rested?  When did she have time to get a manicure?  And those were just my questions about a bra.  You can only imagine the inner monologue about the actual pumping process.

If this is what it looks like to pump “in style,” I can only imagine what the pumping while frumpy version looks like. Also: Thank you, Obamacare.

Eventually, I figured out how often I needed to pump in order to have enough milk for Grace while she is at daycare.  I (mostly) learned how to avoid spilling milk all over myself five minutes before a meeting.  I even managed to pump in an airport bathroom while a work colleague tried to engage in conversation (I have a strict no talking in the ladies’ room policy).

And so, of course, just as soon as started to feel comfortable pumping, it was time to introduce solids.  I think solids warrant a post of their own (Cliffhanger! Just kidding… but seriously… stay tuned.), but I will say this: I was terrified of feeding Grace anything that didn’t, like, come out of my boobs.  Everything new is scary.  It’s been about two months now, though, and our little lady loves to eat.  And we’re having quite a bit of fun with it too.  OK.  But back to best friends breastfeeding.
I am really happy that I was able to exclusively breastfeed Grace until she started solids at approximately 6 months.  (I am still nursing her, but we started supplementing with one bottle of formula a day at 8 months, just a few weeks ago.) I was worried I wouldn’t make it to 3 months, so when we made it 8 months I nearly erected a breast-shaped statue in my own honor.  For the most part, I’ve had a very good supply.  There have been days, though, where I’ve had to pump at home in the early morning or late evening (when I’d much rather be doing, well… anything) in order to have enough milk to send to day care.  Without fail, those have been days when I’ve slacked on water, eaten like a bird, stressed too much, or slept too little.

I am obsessed with Ball jars. Like, I would live in one. If I could fit in there.

Which brings me to this:

How I’ve kept my supply up

  • Drink water.  And then drink some more.: It’s so important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding.  Your body needs fluids to, you know, make fluids… plus it needs fluids to perform its normal functions. In other words, you need to drink more.  I keep a giant mason jar on my desk (complete with an adorable drinking straw #targetdoesitagain) and refill it every time I pump and every time I get up from my desk.  At home, I make sure to drink up after nursing Grace.  It’s helped to associate the two (feed the baby, hydrate thyself).
  • Eat more, not less.: While I’ve felt the same pressure I am sure most new moms have felt to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, restricting calories seems like a surefire way to decrease milk supply.  I’ve tried to focus on eating healthy, quality food, but I am still eating more rather than less.  One day, I’ll fit into my skinnies again.  But in the meantime, I’m busy taking care of my girl.
  • Nurse often.:  We’re fairly scheduled on week days.  We’re like a cellphone plan during nights and weekends, however: unlimited texting and minutes breast milk!  It’s the best.  Come Monday, I definitely see an increase in how much I am able to pump.
  • Think positively.: I find that when I focus on Grace and the health benefits we both receive from breastfeeding, that milk flows like water.  (Or is it wine? How does that saying go?)  When I worry about having enough milk, however, not so much.  I’m no scientist, but I don’t think this is a coincidence.
  • Supplement with herbs.: This may sound a little hippy-dippy, but several people recommended herbal supplements when I first started breastfeeding (the facilitator of our moms’ group swears by fenugreek).  I worried that my supply would drop off when I went back to work and stumbled upon Delta Labs Postnatal formula during some late night Instagramming.

In addition to fenugreek, their postnatal formula also contains glucomannan, white kidney bean, and marshmallow extract (herbs proven to help enhance lactation, and in a combination safe for babies and mothers as determined by the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines). An added bonus: The capsules also contain decaffeinated green tea, CLA, L-Carnitine and vitamin B6 to safely and naturally increase energy and promote weight loss (though it’s not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise… if only obvi).

I’ve used this product for several months (and was running low when Delta Labs kindly sent me a complimentary bottle) and would definitely recommend it for mothers looking to increase or sustain their supply.

Giveaway: Delta Labs Postnatal formula 

Fellow new moms: Would you like to try Delta Labs Postnatal formula for yourself? I’m happy to be hosting a giveaway, thanks to Delta Labs and FitFluential.  One winner will receive a bottle of Delta Labs Postnatal formula.  This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry, neighbors to the North). To enter, please leave a comment below AND Like @DeltaLabsUSA on Instagram.  A random winner will be chosen and contacted on October 20th.

Delta Labs Discount Code 

Use code FitFluential to save $5 on any item from Delta Labs (one time discount; no expiration date).
Also On Tap for Today:

Got BF (best friend or breastfeeding, depending on your area of expertise) advice to share?

Today: National Osteoporosis Month, Adora and The Bar Method.

I updated the four-month planning calendar white board thing in my office this week and seeing September up there?  Good Lord.  It’s somehow the last day of May– which happens to be National Osteoporosis Month– and I’ve got some important information to impart to you and your bones.

I joined the lovely folks from Adora at Bar Method Boston this week for a serious workout and conversation about osteoporosis prevention.  I used to think of osteoporosis as an old lady issue.  Rude, I know.  Turns out, how we treat our bodies now (regardless of age) matters a great deal.  Before sweating through a Bar Method class, we met with a Registered Dietitian and licensed nutritionist who gave us the run down on osteoporosis prevention.  She echoed much of the information shared by the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Listen up, ladies… and the gentlemen who love them.

  • An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis.  8 million of these people (or 80%, mathletes) are women.
  • Approximately 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
  • A woman’s risk of breaking her hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
  • People often do not know they have osteoporosis until they are treated for a fractured wrist, hip, spine, etc.

Why are women more likely to get osteoporosis then men?  

  1. Our bones tend to be smaller and thinner and cuter.
  2. Estrogen (which protects our bones) decreases significantly during menopause, which can contribute to bone loss.

That’s the bad news.  The good news?

We are never too young or too old experienced to take care of our bones and overall health.

How to protect your bones and build or maintain bone density:

  • Get enough calcium (1200 mg a day is recommended) and vitamin D3… and get as much of it as possible from real food (click through for a list of calcium rich foods
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Engaging in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise will help increase bone density
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol and soda intake

If you’re like me (i.e. impossibly cool, sophisticated, and a bit mysterious) and your diet is less than perfect, supplements can certainly help,  but they should be just that: supplements to a healthy diet.  Not replacements for kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts.  In other words, you shouldn’t take 1200 mg worth of calcium supplements each day.  I just gave myself a stomach ache typing that.

I’ve been taking Adora calcium supplements for a few years now and sort of felt like the teacher’s pet for admitting so.  I keep a bag in my desk drawer and grab one with lunch most afternoons.

What I, um… adore about Adora:

  • It’s chocolate.  I could stop there.
  • Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties are gluten free.
  • The dark chocolate, which is definitely my jam, is dairy free (but dairy is present in the production facility).
  • Each disc contains 500 mg of calcium, plus magnesium and D3 to aid in absorption, and contains only 30 calories.

Is this the longest post in the history of the Internet?  Because I haven’t gotten to the part where I tried to be a graceful swan, but likely looked more like a trembling, sickly pigeon.

After learning about the importance of calcium and osteoporosis prevention, we were treated to a 45 minute class taught by McKenzie Howart, owner and instructor at The Bar Method Boston.  As class began, I was all… Whatever.  I work out.  This will be a breeze.  Ten minutes in to the class, I was more… Why are my legs shaking like this?  I have completely lost control of my body!  

What felt akin to gentle torture in the moment was actually kind of fun.  I can see why people get hooked.  I especially liked stretching at the ballet barre.  The studio itself is bright and airy, and McKenzie was warm, compassionate and very helpful.  Every time I heard her call my name I inwardly cringed, but she was quick with a helpful tip or correction.  It’s clear they pay great attention to form, which I am sure greatly benefits their students.  Usual classes at The Bar Method (there are locations in most major cities) are an hour long and features a series of movements (high reps, very focused range of motion) to both engage and stretch muscles in the arms, back, legs, butt, and core.

It was really great to try something new and challenging.  I am sure my bones are grateful.  My still-shaking legs?  Maybe less so.

The usual disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Adora.  I was not compensated for this post, and my opinions are mine alone.  Obvi.  (I hope.)

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Breakfast with my 7th grade pen pal 🙂
  • Looking to cool off?  A few beach suggestions.
  • Trying not to melt

Tried anything new lately?

Today: No guts, no glory… and a skunk alert.

Oh, hey.  If you don’t want to read about body parts, skip to the end for a photo of one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in ages.  Also, it should probably go without saying, but this is the internet, so… I am not a medical professional.  I do other things professionally, that’s how I bring home the imitation bacon bits.  I am happy to share my personal experience, but highly recommend you seek out a medical professional to help guide your own body experiments.

I had my last doctor’s appointment for a while yesterday.  Hopefully.  After months of food logs, blood tests, challenge diets, laying on my bathroom floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve got some semblance of a plan.  And I am very happy about that.  I’ve spent over a decade stressing about stomach aches and um, like, intestine things.  And really, I’d grown sick of being sick.  When I finally found a new PCP, RD and GI (that sounds like a rap crew) earlier this year, I finally felt like I was heading in the right direction.  While chronic issues don’t just go away, I am looking forward to feeling better, taking better care of myself, and spending millions of dollars in the supplement aisle continuing to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

[Image source]

I’ve been following various diet plans recently to help support or challenge the results of my food allergy panel.  While I had very few reactions to lactose, fructans or polyols during the “challenge” phase, I wanted to straight up expire while testing gluten (see above: laying on my bathroom floor).  During the challenge/testing phase, I ate multiple servings of whole wheat (bread, pasta, crackers) over the course of two days.  When we reviewed my food logs yesterday, I was like… dude, why is gluten suddenly an issue?  I’ve practically survived on pasta.  And my RD’s was all, I’m a lady, not a dude.  And also, damage done to one’s digestive track over the years can result in difficulty processing certain foods.  We talked about things like leaky gut syndrome (nearly fainted) or intestinal permeability, vitamin deficiencies, and other things that you probably don’t want to read about over your lunch break.

Going forward the plan is to focus on restoring my digestive track to its former glory.  I’m going to walk around singing Heal the colon.  Make it a better place.  For you and for me and for everyone who puts up with my crankiness.  And then I am going to:

  • Follow my PCP’s recommendations for bringing my vitamin levels up to “normal.”  This includes taking a once-weekly high dose of D3, as well as my usual daily multivitamin plus iron.
  • Bi-weekly B12 injections for 3 months, followed by 6 months of monthly injections
  • Take a daily dose of L  glutamin powder to help boost the regrowth of intestinal cells (enteroctyes) and provide immune support
  • Take a high potency probiotic (30-50 billion cells per day… doesn’t that sound very sci-fi?) for one month, followed by a maintenance dose (15-30 billion cells) in later months
  • Consume 52-65 grams of protein per day
  • Avoid fun gluten for 2+ months

By the time my next colonoscopy rolls around, it will look all sparkly and new in there.  Or whatever.  Want to talk about something rather than my insides?  How about what was happening inside a nearby stairwell today?

Sometimes life really stinks (because your body sprayed chemicals in the stairwell, maybe), but then someone comes along and opens the door.  And they let you out.  And you start to feel better.

Also On Tap for Today:

What would you do if you were trapped in a stairwell with a skunk?  Besides print a sign and tape it to the door, obviously.

Today: I am allergic to being allergic.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After a month of following a low FODMAP diet, carefully tracking what I ate and how it made me feel, and spending more time in grocery store aisles reading labels than I ever imagined possible, I returned to the RD yesterday morning for my first follow up appointment.

I continued to keep notes on my diet and symptoms after the four week elimination phase, so I brought notes about what I thought was bothering me.

I’ve avoided all caffeine and artificial sweeteners (except for a sip of Nick’s Diet Coke post-Reach the Beach, but I absolved myself of that sin immediately because I was barely human at that point).  The only alcohol I consumed in five weeks was two sips of Champagne, and I didn’t have a single drop of agave or honey.

Lactose was on the original “no” list, so when I had a slice of pizza and just barely lived to regret it (slight exaggeration… slight), I assumed dairy was the culprit.  Similarly, when I got a stomach ache after slurping (in a ladylike way) down a cup of tomato soup, I surmised that someone slipped some cream into the pot.  And when a tomato, mozzarella and pesto panini nearly did me in, I blamed the mozzarella.  Obviously.

Turns out, feeling good is not a matter of guessing.  There’s a science to all of this.  And medical experts and medical experts because they have medical expertise, not because they guess about what’s in their soup.  Duh.

After we reviewed the results of my comprehensive food panel (a blood test I took a few weeks ago), it appears that I am strongly reactive (like, in a negative way) to baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and coffee.  I’m moderately reactive to garlic (whyyyyyyyyyy), gluten, grape, peanut, white potatoes, tomatoes (again, whyyyyyyyyyyy), and wheat.

Please note that I am not at all reactive to milk.  Lobster’s fine, too.  Not that I have any desire to eat one.  But still.  I guess that’s good to know.  In case I swim by one, or something.

Because I’ve felt a lot better since making the first set of changes, my RD set up a plan for the next six weeks using a low FODMAP diet as the baseline, with a few changes to reflect the potential aforementioned allergies.  Oh, and I get to add beans back to the mix.  Hallelujah for that.  Over the course of six weeks or so, I will reintroduce specific foods (in a specific order) for one day at a time, note any symptoms, and go back to my baseline diet for 24-48 hours before introducing a different food or food group.  This “challenge phase” will help us narrow or expand my diet based on how I am feeling.

The foods or food groups in question:

  • Gluten
  • Milk
  • Wheat (as long as I don’t react to gluten)
  • Baker’s yeast
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Tomato
  • Peanuts
  • Fructose
  • Fructans
  • Sorbitol and Xylitol
  • Garlic (if I don’t react to fructans)
  • Lactose-free, low-fat dairy (if I react to low-fat regular dairy)

Sound like fun, right?  Right.  I’m inclined to want to entirely avoid anything that might bother me (if it feels good, do it… if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it), but I suppose trial and error is important.  I am more than willing to try just about anything once, though.  Or twice.  Especially if the end result is feeling better.  And I promise to stop playing amateur allergy detective.  I don’t promise to stop playing amateur regular detective, though.

I’m off to eat six hundred beans, four containers of hummus, and a bowl of sprouts for good measure.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Spray tan time (yes, really)
  • #photoadayjune starts tomorrow… because June starts tomorrow
  • Breaking out the pink pants 🙂

Do you have any allergies?  Or are you the perfect human?

Today: Sometimes the little things are the big things.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Today was bound to be one of those days.  I got to my desk bright and early so that I could head out for a doctor’s appointment.  I was scheduled for some testing, poking and prodding… not exactly my idea of a pleasant lunch break.

I had been up much of last night worrying, and the twenty minutes I spent waiting in the exam room alone didn’t help my anxiety.  I caught up on a few work emails and scanned the room for anything (those creepy body part diagram things were not helping) that might distract me from my own over-active imagination.  And there it was, a gift from the heavens (sort of): A Where’s Waldo book.

I have no idea what it was doing there, but man.  It was just what I needed.  In addition to being the perfect distraction, it was a great reminder that often it’s the little things that help the most.  Sometimes they turn out to be the big things.  They give us comfort when we’re worried, a lift when we’re down.  I couldn’t help but think about all the other little things that carry me through my days.

Like this photo I keep on my desk.  My dad took this photo of me in West Dennis when I was little.  I might be a creeper for having a photo of myself, but come on.  Look at how cool I was in my Barracuda jacket.  Relaxed, carefree and as smiley as ever.  This little photo, in its little frame, reminds me to be that version of myself more often.  Crises come up, deadlines approach, meetings are called… but life goes on.  And it goes much more smoothly when you’re grinning.

Speaking of grins, all it takes is a patch of grass to get this little guy smiling from one bat ear to the other.  Sometimes the little things do that for us.

And sometimes it’s the thought behind the little things that makes a big impact.  Like when a friend comes by with treats (those shortbreads, made locally in Essex, are to die for) because you’re having a tough week.  There’s no feeling quite like being cared for.

Similarly, there’s no feeling quite like laughing with good friends.  Our Team Off Balance crew has put group texting to good use before, during and after the Reach the Beach relay.  The system came in handy when a few of us were trapped in the ladies room at the New Balance factory in Lawrence prior to the race.  All it took was a little text to break us free, giggling all the way.  The laughs just keep on coming.

Maybe it’s a bendy straw, a good book, a walk with your better half, or a fresh-from-the-dryer pair of sweats.  Or maybe it’s all of the above.  I’m pleased to report that while today could have been one of those days, it was quickly salvaged by the little things.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • #RWRunStreak Day 2
  • Wedding chatter with my sister 🙂
  • Enjoying the first summer tomatoes

What are your favorite little things?

Today: Start small, start now.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]The always inspiring Kelly Olexa recently encouraged me and my fellow FitFluential Ambassadors to share our favorite fitness tips for people just starting out, or getting back in the game.  As December kicks off, some of us may already be thinking about making New Year’s resolutions tied to fitness or overall well-being.  Rather than wait a whole month, why not start today?  Start small, but for Pete’s sake! start now.

After busting a foot, but still finishing the ING NYC Marathon, I found myself sitting on the sidelines for the few weeks after, wallowing and pouting.  Now that I am feeling better, I am taking my own advice (for once) and starting small, starting now.  No more waiting ’til Monday.  Or January.  While I may be taking some time off from marathoning (likely not a word), I need not take time off from the things that I love doing (and that don’t, um, hurt my little body)– boxing, shorter races, soccer, yoga, long walks with the bulldog, strength training, and some good old fashioned jump roping (also likely not a word).

If you’re starting a fresh fitness routine or bouncing back from illness or injury, I humbly offer (as a true non-professional, so please don’t sue me if a weighted ball falls on your big toe) 7 tips for starting small, starting now:

1.  Schedule a physical.  And, like, go to it.

This is a serious case of do as I say, not as I do, seeing as I would rather poke myself in the eye than go see my doctor.  But I can promise you this: I am on the hunt for a new PCP, and as soon as I find one (who doesn’t routinely loose blood work, paper work, and appointment books), I will schedule that physical.  And I will go to it.  It’s important to see your doctor before starting any new routines.  Why?  Because it says so at the beginning of all fitness DVDs.  And also, because it’s important to know where you stand on the overall health spectrum.  It’s important to know your numbers– not just weight, but iron levels, cholesterol, and BMI for example.  Your doctor can help you determine healthy targets and a plan for hitting them.  A physical is a great starting point.

2.  Set specific, attainable goals.

I find I am lost without a goal to work towards.  Whether it’s finishing a 10k race, or practicing 21 days of yoga, it’s important to be very intentional about setting specific goals.  We could all say, I will get healthier, but it seems like we humans are destined to be perpetual works in progress.  We can always be getting healthier.  Having a clear outcome and timeline in mind keeps me motivated.  The goals don’t have to be grandiose.  They just have to be something you’re willing to commit to, and work towards.  You can certainly start small when it comes to goal setting, just be sure to not limit yourself.  A few goals I am currently working towards:

  • I will attend 12 boxing classes during the month of December
  • I will run a 27 minute 5k before St. Patrick’s Day
  • I will set aside time for prayer or reflection each day during Advent

One of my favorite tools for goal setting (and goal getting) is my fitbook.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I love their “write it down, make it happen” approach.  Being able to see the big picture really helps me to stay on track with the small steps.

3.  Know your motivation.

In addition to knowing what you’re working towards, I think it’s important to also know why you’re working towards those goals.  Is it to improve your overall health?  To have more energy to play with your kids (or Frenchie)?  Know your motivation, and come back to that whenever you’re faced with fear, doubt, or thoughts of throwing in the proverbial towel.  Internal motivation is a powerful thing.  It helps fitness feel less like a series of tasks, and more like a lifestyle.

External motivation can be a great help too.  Perhaps there’s a special event on the horizon?  Or you’ve got an awesome pair of yoga pants just dying to make their debut at the gym?  Or perhaps it’s the gym itself– paying an arm and leg for my gym membership is motivation in itself to maximize my time there.

4.  Starting small doesn’t require buying a whole bunch of crap equipment.

Truly.  You don’t need a lot of stuff to get fit.  I 100% advocate getting fitted for shoes, especially if you’re going to be running in them.  Specialty run/walk stores are a great place to find the shoe that best supports your unique feet and running patterns.  I used to buy running shoes because I liked the colors.  And because they looked cute.   If I was a game show hostess, my name would have been Vanity White.  Bahahaa.  And then I got some sense knocked into me, and actually found shoes that fit.  And that supported my training.  I’ve learned my lesson.

Other investments you might consider making:

  • A yoga mat comes in handy for, well, yoga… and also stretching, foam rolling and weight lifting.  We have concrete floors, a little extra padding is always welcome.
  • You might want to wear a pedometer to track your daily steps.  It’s recommended we log at least 10,000 daily; find out how many you log in a normal day, and work up from there.  I wear a teeny, tiny fitbit and love trying to top my “personal best.”  It also serves as a good reminder to get up and move during the day, whilst working to bring home the imitation bacon bits at the office.  There are plenty of inexpensive options available on Amazon, and local sporting goods stores (I felt like an old person when I typed sporting goods store… that is what they’re called, right?)
  • A weighted ball is great for ab work and toning, plus they double as a home security system.  No robber I know would want to get clocked in the head with one of those.  But, um, for the record: I don’t know any robbers.
  • Resistance bands are perfect for toning and stretching, easily packable for working out on the go.  Check YouTube or Fitness TV for workout suggestions.
  • A set of free weights might be helpful to have on hand– I grabbed mine at Target in 5lbs, 8 lbs, and 10lbs.  Not all at the same time though.  They don’t make bags sturdy enough for that purchase.  Soup cans, and jugs of water work too.
  • And last, but not least, I recommend a jump rope  for getting your heart rate up and working on balance and coordination.  And pretending that your in 3rd grade gym class again.

Some of the most effective exercises for me, though, require only my body, something I conveniently bring with me wherever I go: squats, lunges, squat thrusts, and planks.

5.  Celebrate your accomplishments.  Every single (big and small) one of them.

You don’t need to climb Mt. Everest in order to warrant a good pat on the back.  Or a new iTunes jam.  Or a pedicure.  Or a really long nap.  Celebrate each step you take towards those goals.  I spotted a great article in Self Magazine this month about treating yourself.  Many of their suggestions take only a few minutes, and cost $free.99 (my favorite price).

Let your friends and family share in your successes and hard work.  It’s okay to brag a little.  I try to limit the number of days I wear a race medal to work (3 out of the 5 worksdays/week, generally), and when I moved up a level in boxing recently, I only told Nick 16 times instead of 17.

6. Try something new.  Maybe something a little scary.

Getting stuck in a rut can be frustrating.  Once my car got stuck in an actual rut, and when it got unstuck, the frame was cracked.  It spent a few days in the auto repair place (to the tune of $1400+) getting fixed.  As soon as it was fixed, though, it ran like new.  Did that real life metaphor do anything for you?  Mostly I was just venting, but perhaps there is a real life application there.

Getting unstuck, and shaking things up a bit, does a body good.  Boxing has been the ultimate shake up for me.  I am largely terrified every time I walk down the alley to the boxing gym.  Once my hands are wrapped and the music is blaring, though… it’s on.

7.  Find something you love, and get out there and do it.

Sure, life is full of unpleasantness.  But most of us are lucky enough to have choices and options.  We may not be able to choose to hire a minion to complete such tasks as scrubbing the bathtub, but if we can choose to incorporate fitness into our lives in such a way that makes life more pleasant… welp, we’ve done something right.

Please stop reading and start… starting.  Start small if you wish, but start now.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are your best tips for starting now?  What’s your motivation?

Today: What’s up, Doc?

My New Year’s cold has now taken up residence in my chest as a hacking New Year’s cough.  I sound like Walter Matthau.  While picking up Tylenol PM for my older brother yesterday (I can’t tell you why, because I want him to tell you why*), I actually paused in the first aid aisle of CVS and considered buying one of those SARS masks.  Or three.  One for me, and one for each of my friends.  And then I remembered I needed Chapstick and mosied on to the next aisle.

I feel sickly enough that I thought about making a doctor’s appointment, but didn’t, because I think my doctor is a complete weirdo.  Does anyone else wish they could still see their pediatrician?  No?  Anyone?  My pediatrician was my primary care physician until I turned, like 24 or something.  Mom, remember that time you took me to the doctor right after my college graduation?  Now that was a good time.  I thoughtfully explained my symptoms (headache, lack of appetite, general lethargy and grouchiness), right before my mother announced that I had been drinking from a beer funnel before graduation.  Fantastic.  Someone must have leaked those pictures to the five o’clock news!

This photo predates my discovery of the beer funnel, when I was the appropriate age to be seen by a pediatrician.

By the way, I think I was diagnosed with a hangover (or, fellow Eagles, life after Senior Week).  Meanwhile, there was a two year old in the room next door getting a booster shot.  Not okay.  So now I have this bizarre doctor who sees approximately 7,900 patients per day and is hiding approximately 12 birds in her giant hair.  I found her, not surprisingly, on the internet.  I have another new year’s resolution to add to the list: break up with Doctor Strangehair.

On a totally different note, Doc was my grandfather’s nickname.  His BFFL (and they really were best friends for life) gave him the name when they were really little, after Grandpa saved an injured squirrel.  Or was it a bird?  I don’t know, but I bet he would have been a really good doctor.  Mostly because he was a really good man.

*I am being vague because a. my brother had the most unbelievable day of all time yesterday and b. I want to trick him into being a guest blogger, exploiting his story to drive up traffic on ohcrapnottoday ontapfortoday.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Figure out how to expel the salmon smell from our kitchen
  • Unsubscribe from all those annoying email lists, resulting from too much online Christmas shopping
  • Teleport to China for the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Do you have an adorable nickname?  Or a normal doctor?

Today: Poor boys.

This is not a good week for the man and male dog in my life.  Nick left Monday morning for a week-long business trip in Omaha, and if the Omaha part wasn’t bad enough, he landed in Nebraska with a fever of 103.  He’s now down a few degrees and managed to get a flight back to Boston.  Nothing like a day trip to Omaha!  Remind me to delete this post immediately if his fellow passengers all come down with one of the flus.

And then there’s Clark.  I don’t think he had any idea what he was in for this week, but I have a feeling he did at some point yesterday…  More specifically, when the doggie drugs wore off and he realized he was missing a couple… parts.

I honestly tried to pep talk myself into taking the dog to get neutered on my own, while Nick was away, without going too mental.  I even made a proactive call to the vet to make sure I didn’t need to do anything ahead of time (I have no idea what that might involve.  Was I thinking I’d prep him for surgery?).   Regardless, the dog seems to be doing just fine, with the exception of 3:30 this morning when he went totally batty.

This morning’s whining resulted in a call from our door person, informing us that someone had complained about the noise.  My 4 AM instinct was to leave a note reading as follows:

We’re sorry to wake you, but think of it this way: It could be worse.  You could’ve been neutered.  –Your neighbors

Fortunately for everyone, I was too tired to execute this brilliant communique.  Speaking of sorry, I’m terribly sorry Nick’s under the weather, but I’m kind of extremely glad he came home, so Clark (and our building mates) can be mad at both of us.  Just kidding. Neutering is a good thing.  I cannot believe I just typed that.  I’m probably going to vom.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Buy a Michael Jackson face mask
  • Take a serious nap
  • Count down the days until Thanksgiving and then count down the days until Christmas

How are the men in your life holding up?  And how are you warding off the flu?