Wednesday, October 1, 2014

5 Ways to Practise Optimism


5 Ways to Practise Optimism

In keeping with my theme of selecting a new focus for every month this year, in October, I have decided to continue on with my new found positive mindset… and focus on optimism.  I have been thinking a lot about this word and what it means to me. I finally looked it up in the Merriam–Webster online dictionary and found this:

op·ti·mism

noun \ˈäp-tə-ˌmi-zəm\
: a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen

Examples of OPTIMISM

  1. Both of them expressed optimism about the future of the town.
  2. The early sales reports are cause for optimism.
  3. There is growing optimism that the problem can be corrected.
  4. He maintains a sense of optimism, despite all that has happened.
I think I am not a natural optimist… I have to really work at it sometimes.  Not because I am hoping or expecting things to turn out badly, really, but rather that I like to be prepared for when they do.

And I know that I go a bit overboard with it sometimes.  When we are sailing, I am a fiend for weather reports, current and tidal charts, and such.   If the wind is supposed to rise to 30 knots at 4 p.m. by 3 o'clock I want to be reefing the mainsail so we don’t have to attempt it in a gale.   The Captain, on the other hand, although mostly practical, very safety conscious and level-headed, is always looking for things to go right and just expects that they will.

Another example comes easily to mind… he and I almost never choose to travel the same route when we are driving to any particular destination. When I am at the wheel I will go out of my way to avoid making a left hand turn at an uncontrolled and somewhat busy intersection. And I will drive automatically to the far end of a parking lot to make sure I find an empty spot… whereas he almost never has to wait more than a few seconds to make that same left hand turn, and he usually lucks into an empty parking spot right outside the mall door… see what I mean? He expects those things to just fall into place for him, and they normally do.

He is an optimist.  I like to think I am a work in progress. But I am making progress and there are a few things I am practising to make that happen more often.

Here are my 5 Ways to Practise Optimism:

Realize that the past does not equal the future
  • Just because I didn’t find that parking space in front of the store the last 10 times I looked for one, doesn’t mean there won’t be one there the next time. 
Put yourself out there, and be hopeful
  • Stop worrying about what might happen and take some  risks.  Understand that life involves uncertainties and not everything will go well, but some will.  Hmmm… another confession… I am a control freak so this is really hard for me.
Life is short
  • Worrying and indecision are a waste of time.  No one has enough time to dilly dally.  Do it. 
Strive for balance
  • I know am not going to do a 180 with this .  It is all right for me to still prepare for the worst but hope for the best.  It isn’t black or white. I am never going to throw caution completely to the wind and that is okay. 
Understand that engergy attracts like energy
  • I used to work with a woman that always expected something bad to happen… and she was never disappointed. It seemed like she wore it as a badge of honor. She was always right about things in her life going wrong and she was such a downer to be around.  Happy, energetic, positive people attract others of the same mindset.  I want to be with positive energetic people.  Who doesn’t?

Are you an optimist?  Do you prepare for the worst?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Struggles and Successes

I started out the month of September full of hope and with an intention to knock off a couple of pounds of excess weight that I gained over the Spring and Summer months… I was feeling a bit soft around the middle, had lost some of the muscle in my arms and shoulders and was feeling quite down on myself in general.

I had a food plan, an exercise plan and thought I was on the right track to have a great RE-start in September.  But I didn’t make any headway at all… oh yes, I kept working out like a fiend, but I was not at all committed to my healthy food plan and was basically sabotaging all of my own efforts.

I joined a couple of Facbook exercise/nutrition challenge groups and did the daily postings and pics but never really got into it.  I wasn’t feeling motivated at all.  I wasn't getting any inspiration from these groups.

I knew that I had to make some changes but couldn’t seem to get over the mental hurdle of just doing it.  I made excuses.  I procrastinated. I pretended. I avoided.

Then I had an epiphany of sorts… which I wrote about here.  I made an about face… I gained a new mindset… And now I have a positive energy which has me travelling in the right direction.  I quit focussing on what I want the outcome to be, and am actually enjoying the process of looking after myself.

So what were the problems and what changes have I made?

I was grazing my way through the day and evening.  I was eating good and healthy meals but snacking on nuts and dried fruit intermittently.
  • I have put away all the tempting little nibbles so that I cannot mindlessly and easily grab a handful of nuts, or raisins as I pass through the kitchen.  They are now in measured portions and in an out of the way cupboard.
I was just winging it with my food plan... I had quit  menu planning pretty much altogether. I have always known that I operate much better with a written plan and I was just being lazy about doing it.
  • Every morning I make a food plan/menu for the day including my meals and my snacks.  At the end of the day, I look it over and note my deviations and think about why they occurred.
I was keeping junky snack foods in the cupboard, lying to myself that they were for The Captain.  Hah!
  • I am keeping healthy and whole foods in the fridge and in the cupboards. I am surrounding myself with opportunities to make good-for-me choices.  
I was in the habit of having a glass or 2 of wine before dinner several times a week.  
  • I have changed my pre-dinner routine so that I am going outside for a walk instead of sitting down with a drink.
All in all, I have developed some new routines. I have cleaned up my spaces. I have ditched the dieting mindset. I am looking after ME.

I am doing well. I am feeling better. I am seeing progress in the mirror and on the scale too… look out OCTOBER.

Do you ever sabotage your own efforts?  How do you motivate yourself to make changes?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Loving it or Not…It’s Fall

This picture appeared in my Twitter feed earlier this week and I just had to share it with you… did you see it too?

Twitter

We had a lovely, unusually hot and dry Summer here on the South end of the Island and it came to a sudden halt on the first day of Fall when it rained for the first time in ages… since then I have noticed some real changes.

Loving

Even though it has been rainy on and off over the past few days, it is still quite warm.  And I finally got myself some new rain gear. Couldn’t decide between 2 colors of this Eddie Bauer jacket… so I got them both!

Sept 26 003

Not

The days are noticeably shorter already. I came out of my Weight Watchers meeting at just after 7 p.m. yesterday and it was dark outside already.  And still dark at 6 o-clock this morning.

Loving

All kinds of squash are finally in all the local markets in great abundance… and the prices are gooood.. anywhere from 59 cents to 99 cents for a pound.  YAY!  I have been enjoying them a lot as The Captain came home with a couple of bags full of acorn, kabocha, and butternut squashes.

Sept 26 002

Not

Sweet potatoes and yams are still around the $1.99 point.  That is just wrong. They should be so much less by now.

Loving

Some of my favorite tv shows are back on and started this week… the Biggest Loser has as interesting twist this season with pro athletes as contestants; Parenthood looks like another great season coming up with Amber pregnant, and Julia with a new beau.

Not

TV can be such a huge time suck. I end up watching more than I want to…

And on another note… 

This book arrived in my mail box this week and from what I have seen so far, I love it.  It has such good information in it for anyone wondering about gluten-free living and has easy recipes that you will really use… a couple of which are mine!

Sept 26 001

Here are a couple of  things I found on the internet this week that I really loved:


This one’s a recipe:

Is it Fall where you live yet?  What’s your favorite thing about it?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Playing Card Workout For Shoulders


I love to work my shoulders and my arms… or rather, I love the way my shoulders and arms look and feel when I work them on a regular basis. 
 
These past few months I have not really been doing that.  I have been doing a series of bodyweight workouts called Metabolic Aftershock, which I really like, but I  have not been hitting the weights at all. It’s a conundrum.
 
When I work out with weights regularly, I am usually quite tired by the time my session is done and I really don’t have a lot of energy for the rest of my day, let alone for more exercise such as running, or playing tennis.  With Metabolic Aftershock, I really feel I am getting a good overall workout, and even though I follow each session up with a half-hour brisk walk, I can handle more later.  I feel refreshed and energized, not spent.
 
But, I am not keeping my arms and shoulders looking as fit as I would like them. The muscles have definitely reduced in size and I don’t feel as confident as I would like in sleeveless garments.  A compromise was definitely in order.  And I think I have devised one.
 
I have decided I can handle one good, hard upper body workout every week, in addition to everything else I am doing.  And, I plan to fit it in on Sundays. I hope it will be enough.  In keeping with my intention of having fun while I work out,  I have come up with a game to help me work my shoulders.  I am using a deck of playing cards with 4 Jokers.  I did a bit of research, looking at several different web sites to help me learn about shoulder muscles to select the exercises I would use (ya’ll know I am not a trainer and need professional advice).
 
I recall seeing something similar to this on tv last year… was it the Biggest Loser, perhaps?
 
Anyway, I learned that the deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder. Anatomically, it appears to be made up of three distinct sets of fibres.

 
300px-Deltoid_muscle_animation4
Source: Wikipedia

Anterior delt: In the front of the shoulder, also known as the front delt
Lateral delt: On top of the shoulder, also known as the middle delt
Posterior delt: On the back of the shoulder, also known as the rear delt

And then I started looking at some exercises that would work each of the 3 muscle groups and chose these out  of all the ones I found:

Overhead Shoulder Press
  • Works the anterior delt.
  • Stand with dumbbells in your hands with the arms at a 90 degree angle. Keeping abdominal muscles taught to support your back, raise the weights up over head. Do not lock elbows at the top. Lower slowly to 90 degree angle and repeat.
Frontal Raise
  • Works the anterior delt.
  • Stand with weights at your sides in a neutral grip. Lift the weights to shoulder height, and slowly lower. Lover slowly and repeat.
Lateral Raise
  • Works the lateral delt.
  • Stand with weights at your side in a neutral grip. Raise the weights out to the side with a slightly bent elbow. Lower slowly and repeat.
Bent Over Lateral Raise
  • Works the the posterior delt.
  • Bend forward from the waist, and, with the arms slightly bent at the elbows, lift the dumbbells straight to the side until both arms are parallel to the floor. Lower slowly and repeat.
Standard Pushups
  • Standard push-ups mainly target the chest and triceps muscles. Pushups also work the anterior and medial delts. The delts assist the chest and triceps in pressing your body weight back up.
  • Perform standard pushups from the toes or from the knees.
Playing Card Workout For Shoulders

Playing Card Workout For Shoulders\

My game takes about half an hour to play and you should feel free to rest when you need to.. and drink lots of water throughout as well.

You will need:
  • A deck of playing cards with 4 Jokers
  • A couple of sets of dumbbells 
  • If you do your Pushups from your knees, you will want a mat or a towel to put under your knees on the floor to protect them.
I started out with a heavier set up dumbbells and after I got tired, I used a lighter set, in order to be able to finish.

I assigned an exercise to each suit in the playing card deck and the Jokers as follows:
  • Spades – Overhead Press
  • Hearts – Frontal Raise
  • Diamonds – Lateral Raise
  • Clubs –  Bent Over Lateral Raise
  • Jokers – Pushup
Start out by warming up for a few minutes… windmill your arms, do someoverhead reaches and stretches. Get your blood flowing.

Then, shuffle the cards and turn them over one by one. When each card is turned, perform  the exercise that matches the suit, as many times as the number that is on the face of the card. The numbers are self-explanatory, and Aces are 1, Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13.
When you turn up a Joker, perform the number of Pushups that match the number on the previous card turned.  For example, if the last card was a 3, do 3 Pushups.

Playing Card Workout For Delts
This card tells you to perform 3 Lateral Raises. If it was followed by a Joker, you would perform 3 Pushups.

It was fun and demanding. I did rest a couple of times, and I drank 5 glasses of water as well.  If once a week doesn't seem to be helping keep the arms buff, I will add another session.

I can see myself developing other workouts using this method as well.  I think it will help keeps things interesting as it will be different every time.



Is this something you would try?  Do you like to work your shoulders?

How do you keep your workouts fresh and interesting?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Loving Lately… Faves and Raves

It’s been a good week… lots of exercise  and much better food choices since my awakening…. you can read about that in my last post if you like… 

I got in a couple of shortish runs this week.  Was great to get the running shoes on and get out pounding the pavement after not having run for just over a month.  I took it slow and easy, but thoroughly enjoyed myself.  And now that I am using DRIP DROP powdered electrolytes before running and I am not having any leg cramping, AT ALL,  I have decided to become an ambassador for the product.
 
I am still taking the fermented L-Glutamine in the morning, and my Natural Calm magnesium powder before bed, and I think this medicinal grade electrolyte mix might just be the piece that was missing for me.  And it tastes good, too. 


DRIP DROP


I made up a new smoothie after our last run.  Here’s the recipe. It is so easy and just delicious!  We have been getting wonderful, flavorful peaches here this season and I can’t seem to get enough of the taste.  Next time I might use a whole peach in each smoothie, instead of just half.


Ginger Peach Smoothies


Ginger Peach Smoothies
Serves 2
  • 1-1/2 cups original unsweetened Almond Breeze
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 peach, peel and pit removed, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
  1. Put almond milk, protein powder and peach into blender bottle and puree till smooth.
  2. Pour into 2 glasses and sprinkle 1/2 tsp grated ginger root over each.

I just found out that I am now a Sweat Pink Ambassador!  I am very excited to be part of this fun group and can’t wait to start giving out pink shoelaces and getting involved with their promotions and events.

NEW-SPA-badge


I came across some really good blog posts this week:
  • Bedtime Yoga Poses at Reason to Play
    • I had never thought about doing this before but I do intend to try it.







  • Good Job, Chubby at The Tiffany Project
    • Such a feel good story that could have had a very sad ending.

Here are a couple of good looking recipes I found:



All in all an interesting and happy week.

What’s making you smile lately?