health, inspire

Emotional Hygiene

 

Part of my goals this year are about using my time more thoughtfully. (I’m looking at you, hour long commute! You too, meal prep marathon!) Instead of riding along listening to 70s music (again) or the usually depressing news, I wanted to start listening to podcasts. I loaded some up and have enjoyed quite a few (while easily deleting others after a couple of episodes.)  I’ve learned that some are pleasant to listen to, even inspiring, and will linger with me.  Then, there are others where I am actively nodding, mind completely engaged, stopping to jot notes down to think about or follow up on later. I’ll share interesting tidbits once in a while.

The first one I wanted to share here is an episode from Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast. Specifically, an episode with Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who now trains people to negotiate across many fields, especially business.  This is definitely an episode I would have skipped based on the topic / title except for one thing…I was going to a car dealership later that day to buy a car.  People who know me can guess I’d be nervous about negotiating anything, so when I saw this episode title I thought to myself…well…maybe I can learn something that will help me feel more confident in negotiation for this car.

As I listened, most of what stood out to me was about mindset.  He talked about the way much of our brains (around 75%!) are neurologically wired to be negative – to defend ourselves for example, but we are actually significantly smarter when we are happier.  Like, 31% smarter.  That’s huge! This comes from Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, The Happiness Advantage.  Who knew that just by being happier we boost our smarts?  Left me with a lot to think about.

Another tidbit that struck me was Voss mentioning the importance of gratitude in starting your day.  He recommends that we write down 1-3 things to be grateful for at the beginning of the day as “emotional / spiritual hygiene.”  I’ve known the importance of gratitude for a while.  I’ve even written about thanks on this blog. But I think the idea of how gratitude is as necessary as taking a shower or brushing your teeth was a mind shift for me.  It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary in order to get your brain framed up the right way for the day.  Gratitude is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is a daily practice that keeps us on track.

So far, podcasts are an interesting new way to learn for me…I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m figuring it out.  Do you have any podcasts you enjoy or recommend?

As for negotiations, I have started to notice all the subtle little negotiations we make during our days, from the coffee line to casual conversations at work.  Will I improve at them using what I’ve learned?  I’ll let you know.  In the mean time, I still haven’t bought a car, but that’s a story for another post.

 

 

 

 

inspire

Let’s Talk Music

Nobody But You just released by Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani is hot off the press and I am totally a fan!

First, I love Gwen Stefani. She is hot, sassy and full of badassery. Blake I am not a huge fan of, but paired with Gwen they seem to make a dynamic duo. Can’t wait to see if more collaborations appear.

Give the song a listen. It has a cool vibe and the lyrics pack a punch. I think anyone lucky enough to be living a love story for the first time or second or third time might find it hits an emotional chord.

Watching a video clip is inspiring as well. I see a little Hollaback Girl in the car scene with a dopey-eyed Blake looking on. Her flair attracts him. You can see it. Fun to watch the puppy love for both of them.

Just a random offbeat post for you. Music soothes the soul.

perspective, working women

The Value of Time

This year I will most likely talk about time and its value many times and in many ways on this blog.

It may sound odd but every time I turn around an obstacle could arise because of time in general or how our most precious commodity (time) is spent thus making us have limited time or maybe it’s the perception of less time vs. the reality of time.

To keep the focus I purchased a new clock for my office. It’s a cool clock made up of words that illuminate in five-minute intervals. Thank you Sharper Image for offering cool gadgets.

5 minutes past the hour, 15 minutes past the hour and so on. The illumination is eye- catching and is a great conversation starter.

The clock is also a great visual reminder of time, my need to write (words), and my need to evaluate my time continually to insure I am on track with all that I do.

Today’s thought spurred after I read an article on the time limitations of males vs. females. It was interesting but as I reflected I sighed and said hmmm I can relate.

I can relate to the roles women are depicted in. The wife, the mother, the corporate executive, the cook, the laundress, and so on. Now some households have a male counterpart who contributes or pulls a fair load but “moms” end up as the go-to for many things, people and so on despite having to work these days.

Just random food for thought here. Until next time, please use your time wisely and make you a priority at least one hour a day. I know you will thank me if you schedule you time one hour a day.

You could read a book. You could research something on the internet. You could get your nails done. You could do many things in an hour. Try it!
And a special thanks to Dove chocolate for the time traveler reminder!

healthy hacks

The Swap

The meal prep swap. How does it work?  What are the benefits?

This is another blog that is just a tidbit for anyone who can benefit.

Each week meal prepping can be boring or tedious. Time constraints could limit what you can make forcing you to eat the same chicken recipe for multiple days. Things could be worse, but what if there was a way to switch up the ordinary?

Grab yourself four friends who eat healthy. Set a side a day and place for the swap. Pick your menu and start your meal prep.

Instead of meal prepping 5 chicken dishes for yourself, you keep one and bring the other four to the swap.

One friend makes spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs with marinara. One friend makes Greek chicken with a cucumber, tomato and onion salad. One friend makes a chicken bowl with black beans, corn, riced cauliflower and veggies. And the final dish is a shrimp and avocado dish. These are just a sample but the picture above actually has egg salad full of veggies, turkey sausage and cabbage with cucumber side, riced cauliflower with beef sausage and hard boiled eggs, and spaghetti squash seasoned with Everything but the Bagel seasoning (a must have) with turkey.

You basically bring you 4 meals and trade with the other four participants. You end up with 5 different meals for the next few days (yours plus the other four). Variety is in front of you.

You may even try something you never would have made and loved it. You could also get a dud meal. That’s the little risk you take for escaping the ordinary. This may be too much planning week after week but here and there it can easily break up the cycle of boring meal prep.

Be sure to set expectations in your group about capturing all ingredients, measurements and of course sharing the recipe. For me it works great when a friend messaged me the details from Myfitnesspal. I just copy and paste and move on to the next meal.

Just a fun way to spend some time with friends, promote heathy eating and maybe even keep a friend accountable for tracking their eating or meal prepping.

More healthy hacks coming your way in 2020 from 2 Chicks and a Pen.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Mileage Madness

Just updating the world on my 2020 mileage challenge. So far, so good.

At the end of 2 full weeks I logged 147 miles or 8% of the 2,020 miles. Doesn’t seem like much but it is all extra work. The miles are in addition to my normal daily training. I fit them in where I can.

I arrive early some days for a couple of miles. I stay late when I can for a few more. I add some longer stretches at home when my schedule allows. I’m getting it done and so are my friends.

I have 3 races booked so far for 2020. A 15k in February, a 10k in May and a mud run in October. Just a fun way to get some miles away from the ordinary training locations.

Variety definitely helps keep the task at hand easier. One friend is splitting up her miles by category. 10% by rower, 10% run, 10% ski erg and so on. Why? For one, it’s harder. A mile on the rower or the ski erg take longer. Each may even seem more taxing than bike, but in small doses it’s not too bad.

Enter a group text message early Saturday morning with a 7-mile variety workout of sorts for a group challenge. It looked challenging yet I wanted to put in 11 miles that day so I adjusted the numbers to get me to 11 miles collectively. I said it’s not much more time. Hmmmm…

The above workout was now a reality. It took a while. Over an hour but it was manageable and I wasn’t exhausted after. Maybe my extra miles are helping me build endurance. I had a friend doing the work with me which always help to keep one moving.

I shared my update with the 2020 group and *boom* some brilliant member suggests we do it AGAIN tomorrow. Sunday. 5am. Who in their right mind wants to do that on a Sunday? The one day I can actually sleep in. WHAT? Have you lost your ever loving mind?

And people say I’m the head of the Bad Idea Club! Well, in this instance I said “wait, I’ll be there.” Why? Because I’m just as crazy as the others on the group chain.

It’s 4:30 am. It’s cold. I’m still tired. It’s laundry day so my favorite gym clothes are dirty. Do I even want to do this? I check to make sure my pals are up and moving because it would be a sick joke to wake me up this early for nothing. And I’m secretly hoping nobody replies! I sigh as two chirps got my phone.

It’s Kim and Mindy who are clearly up and ready to go go go. Guess I got to get going too. Off we go again to rack up another 11 miles, or 11 miles, 60 pushups and 90 sit-ups to be exact. Will I have a better finish time? I doubt it. It’s at 5am and I will barely be awake. Now I have to figure out who I can get to drag themselves out of bed so we can be miserable together. Picture proof below.

6 souls rose in the 4 am hour to meet at the gym for a 5 am start. Over an hour of hard work. Running in the dark and cold. Cheering each other on. We even had a cheerleader there snapping pictures.

Bike, ski, row, run, push up then sit up over and over again. We did it!

Off to work the nurse goes. Off to the grocery store three others go as it’s meal prep day. One rushes out before the hubs wakes up and one just vanishes into the darkness.

Another day. Another 11 miles. A little closer to the end goal. A whole lot of fitness. A great time with wonderful women I call friends. Fitness can actually be fun if you make it fun with friends.

fitness and nutrition, friendship, healthy hacks

Monday Madness

Today’s post isn’t about a lot of words or wisdom. Rather it’s about practical and useful knowledge.

My day started like most: walking the dog and hitting the box for a sweat session. A little koala challenge to put my Monday in high gear with my gal pal Tashi. Maybe I will describe what a koala challenge is in another post.

Then the average ordinary case of the Mondays set in. It’s a not-so-fabulous word used to describe a Monday: WORK. How do you attack a Monday when it’s rainy and blah? Here’s a nice hack for you:

BUT FIRST COFFEE. And not just any cup of coffee. A protein-packed coffee that is good for your macros. You get the sweet taste and the caffeine but without the calories and creamer you get at the big coffee chains. And most likely you are saving a few bucks.

The hack is a brewed cup of your favorite coffee. Add your favorite protein, mine is, of course, Salted Caramel from Teamkattouf Nutrition. I may be partial just because they list KAT on their tub and those are my initials. Then all you have to do is grab your handy dandy frother and get to work. Actually it’s no work at all.

This little hack can turn a sour Monday into a productive day. Of course it can do the trick any other day as well. Hope you enjoyed my coffee hack this morning.

This post is dedicated to my friend Kim who taught me this trick a while back and let me sample her protein. Everyone needs a friend like Kim in their life.

dare to be different, inspire

New Year, New Decade, New Opportunities

I think I will start with writing something profound or brilliant in my mind.

2020 is upon us and like many I have goals to write, tackle and conquer but this year is different. It’s the start of a new decade and thus the magnitude of go bigger is something I want to do in many areas of my life. I want to escape the ordinary. Of course, my 2020 journal (pictured below) is perfect for cataloging my ebbs and flows of the year. #2020hereIcome

Lucky for me I have an amazing tribe around me willing to jump in on adventures, shenanigans and overall badass challenges I find intriguing. Some are extreme while others just take time.

Time is valuable to me. One of my most precious commodities. Where to use it? Who gets my time? What’s the value of my time and so on. Keeping this in mind I will share a few tidbits about my year of awesome!

It started in December of 2019 when I decided on a 2020 theme of me. What can I do 2,020 of to level up my fitness, for example.

Goal one was finalized: run, walk, jog, crawl, bike, row or ski erg 2,020 extra miles in 2020. This is in addition to any other regular daily workouts which is the kicker. It’s extra time. Who can commit? Who will commit? Who will cross the finish line?

Today I have about 10-15 willing participants tracking their miles along side me. Each for different reasons and each have their own path. Some have daily goals of extra miles, some weekly, some monthly and some want to count backwards. Whatever the method the miles add up to the same total of 2,020 miles. 365 opportunities await each participant. Each individual has to make a choice to put in work today, tomorrow and the the next day and stay the course of time.

Some will need a fixed routine to succeed. Others may need variety. Some may take big bites out of miles while others may take smaller steps. The power of choice. The power of self will and desire. The strength required to commit long term.

I started my first four days of the year with 7 miles a day and then jumped up to 10 miles and 9 miles respectively. Most of which I completed on my bike erg, which I love. (Thank you concept2). 47 miles down and 1,973 to go for those who like to count down. I may not keep this pace but as the hype is fresh I will bank those extra miles for the days I am traveling, sick or unable to hit my strides.

I’m pretty excited about this challenge. Will I finish? Will my friends finish? Will anyone join me virtually? Will I be able to push myself when times are tough? Can I manage my time? Basically this is a solo task. Only I can make it happen. Only I can decide if I finish. But as a bonus I have a tribe willing to attempt it with me. How lucky am I?

I am lucky, loved, blessed and all so appreciative of the opportunities I have and the memories I can make. You are also lucky as you have a front row seat to my adventures. This could be good or bad. I have not only set a lofty goal, I actually shared it with the world in this blog. How about that for a massive accountability partner?

This is not my only goal, rather one of many. Many more than others I know but for me this is a year of me. A way to launch into the new decade and see what I can really accomplish if I focus and prioritize. Dreaming big in most areas which will test me, but of course I’m ready.

What makes me ready? To start, I was invited to a vision board party. What in the heck is that? It’s a gathering of key influencers in your life who you feel inspired by. People you like to spend time with vs. those people you have to spend time with (or coworkers). You write your story so to speak on a poster board using words, pictures, objects and whatever other flair you can put your hands on. This was so in my wheelhouse. Why did I never do this before? Who cares, I’m doing it now. It’s a new decade and a new opportunity!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I learned a ton about myself and those around me. It was empowering to say the least and fun. I don’t think I’ve used a glue stick, scissors and tape like I did that day for a long time. Talk about the memories of the good old school days before the internet became front and center.

One pal even bought magazines for the first time in ages and couldn’t believe how much they cost nowadays. See how old I am!

I will leave you with this glimpse of the sparkle we all shared that day. No need to name who did what rather it’s meant to provide a visual inspiration for others. Maybe one of my readers will feel motivated to host a vision board party.

Some chose to fill the board up while others left room to grow. Captivating just to see how folks approached the task and invested themselves into the outcome. Mine is posted prominently in a space where I can see it and be reminded of the mindset I had when I made it.

What will you do to make your decade launch special in 2020?