working women

Road Trip Woes

This month has been a whirlwind of sorts. Had to travel for work. Had to travel as a coach. Had to travel for personal events. This translated into lots of miles in the car and days away from routine and comfort.

Adding mileage to the car was the easy part of the trip. The challenge was having to find a way to get my exercise miles in for my fitness goals. I had to make friends or enemies with the hotel gyms over and over again. I had to make do with the options I had.

First trip leg was monsoon-like weather conditions. Heavy rains cause accidents and delayed arrivals. Leg two was just long and boring. Nothing exciting to report except arriving where the weather was much warmer. Hoping for a good night’s sleep in hotel #1.

Life on the road whether for business or pleasure always makes routines challenging. From getting to the gym, eating healthy and sleeping well you have to be persistent and self-disciplined. Nobody makes the time and effort but you. Trust me when I say this.

Hotel 1 had a gym that was a few buildings away as it was a shared campus setting with a couple of hotel brands. This was not the end of the world but it made me less likely to work out because of the distance I had to go. Excuse #1 on the trip.

Next challenge was group meals. Those who want to dine out, get dessert and and and. I’m going to have to put in some serious work when I return to make up for my travel diet. Meal prep, healthy snacks and access to my fridge and kitchen make a big difference. This is definitely a crappy element of travel.

Before I’m on to leg 2, I must admit I’m a fitness freak. A freak of sorts passionate about all things that equate to a healthy lifestyle. This trip was further confirmation for me personally. I was active, but my intensity level was diminished. My constantly varied fitness regimen was more limited to walking. Walk slow in a group or walk slow carrying a load. Either way my Apple Watch wasn’t dinging up the active points as easily.

Let’s add in stress. Environmental stress. Travel stress. Poop stress which is defined as the inability to consistently regulate one’s bowel movements compliments of poor eating choices when on the road. I would say this makes travel just blah, which is an irony I found in the form of a sign of bathroom stall at one of my business meetings…..wait for it:

Was somebody trying to tell me something? It’s interesting that I was writing this post mid-trip and boom this was front and center in the restroom. I guess that’s why I’m opting to share this wisdom with you. I mean who doesn’t like a good poop story anyway? 

And then the fire alarm at the hotel at 3 am sort of added a wrinkle into the trip. It’s hard to fall back to sleep after the extremely loud alarm is piercing your ears for many minutes. It could have been a real fire and a lot worse but the sound of crying kids above and below you in a hotel at that hour is not fun from the backlash of the alarm. Again it could have been much worse but it was still aggravating.

On the road again and guess what? Rain! It’s raining again. Not just a sprinkle, the monsoon-like raining that is a pain to drive in. Extra stationary time in the car, how fun?

Another hotel in the books. A little work. A little less play. On to another stretch of roadway that is pretty desolate. Miles and miles of nothing. Driving this stretch of road is similar to watching paint dry. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

A brief pit stop to see my puppy and relieve my dog sitter then back on the road again. Wasn’t I just on this stretch of road? Why yes I was. Same route, different destination. Add in a new playlist to spice up the road trip. Karaoke party of one here I come!

And who would have guessed? More rain. A lot more rain making road travel that much more of a pain in the rear. Back in the saddle I go for a few weeks until my next trip which is by plane in a few short weeks. Time to get back on my routine. My fitness and eating healthy routine. No excuses!

Thanks for being a passenger on my road trip to what seemed like nowhere. But I did go somewhere. And I have lots of memories some which I shared and some which I didn’t. I guess that’s the beauty of being a storyteller. I choose what I tell and don’t tell.

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.

healthy hacks

Tough Days Call for Easy Bagels

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Posted in honor of National Bagel Day.  Here’s how I celebrated!

Several of my friends and I are trying to tighten up our nutrition, and our belts, as part of our 2020 goals.

This may mean limiting certain treats, even eliminating some of them. For most of us it means upping protein and being careful to count nearly everything else. It’s a daily set of choices…maybe more of a battle some days.

But it also means finding new ways to enjoy some of our favorite things in ways that don’t derail us from our goals.

Transition in nutrition can be challenging.  Even after just a few days, moving to prepped food and protein can try both patience and palate.

Enter Skinny Taste Easy Bagels.  5 ingredients, quick knead, roll them into a bagel shape, top them, 25 minutes in the oven and voila! Bagels.

Are they just like iconic New York bagels?  Not quite.  But, covered with your favorite topping (Everything But the Bagel for some, sesame for others), toasted or warmed, maybe filled with a lightly scrambled egg, and tightening up your nutrition doesn’t seem quite so bad.  They have almost 10 grams of protein each.  

I learned quickly that these make my friends happy.  So, when meal prep was running short lately, it was pretty simple to put them together on a Thursday night and bring them to see everyone at the gym Friday morning.  Even though they were a little crispy, they brought a smile and some great pics of pretty plates later that morning.

A little pick-me-up doesn’t have to be expensive or hard.  It can be as easy as a note or a homemade treat.  It can even help friends meet their goals while letting them know they matter and are cared about.

Think you’re not a baker?  Give these a try.  Another healthy hack from the 2 Chicks!

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perspective

I Took the Dare! (And Now I’m Daring Myself!)

2019 was my Year of Fearless.

Some days, that word pushed me to do new things.  To live a little differently.  To take a breath and leap when I would usually just step back or walk away.  I still have many of the same fears, but they don’t hold me back quite as much or quite as often.

All in all, the fearless served me well.  I changed and grew in fearlessness, at least a little bit.

Now another turning of the year.  What should follow my year of fearless?

Last year, as I selected my word, I spent a lot of time thinking, considering options, weighing possibilities.

This year was a no-brainer.  It almost slapped me in the face. I picked up a set of notebooks while Christmas shopping, and there it was. So NOT me. But so needed to be!

The story began a while ago, in one of our gym-girl group chats.  Someone (not me!) asked for a challenge, which became a dare, which turned into a quite funny mid-November-damp-overcast-chilly-afternoon episode of me running a lap outside around the gym in a swimsuit.

 

Yup, I stripped off my gym clothes and took off running.  I mean, I’m a tank-top and shorts girl at the gym so the bathing suit was not much less than people see me wear most days, but still. Running through the parking lot in that for no apparent reason had me shallow-breathing-freaking-out through the entire class.

Growing up, whenever there was a game of truth or dare, I would quickly and silently slink out of the room.  If I had to play I always chose truth. Dare left too much to chance.

And so, my One Little Word of 2020 is….Dare.

Dare to live big. Dare to do crazy things.  Dare to continue to figure out who I am, and then dare to show people. Dare to put myself out there.

Dare to make big plans and, sometimes, dare to let go of the plan and see what happens. Dare to live in the moment.

Dare to dream outrageously. Dare to set big goals. And, maybe one of the things I fear most… dare to fail.  Dare to flop.  Dare to fall short.  Dare to (eek!) disappoint, then dust myself off and dare again even more relentlessly.

I’ve set my goals this year.  I set some that are all but surely out of reach.  This is totally out of character for me.  When I set goals, I usually pick something that I am relatively sure I can accomplish with a reasonable effort.  Not. This. Year.

The quote that I wrote in the front of my goal book:

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Some of them do scare me.  But in some ways, that’s exciting.

What word is guiding you this year?

Looking forward to sharing the dares as the year goes along!

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health

Who’s Got Time for Sick Days?

It’s the final days of December which means 1099s, W2s and a million other time-sensitive duties for a roll-your-sleeves-up kinda girl boss who gets shit done daily. All of which causes friction with overlapping sports and holiday break time for the teen. Chaos ensues around scheduling on the home front. Add in a new puppy with training needs and you get a full plate. A very full plate that requires careful planning and execution daily.

That means every minute, every hour and every day is pretty much scheduled, leaving no down time. Enter the flu and strep going around your community and the feeling of “oh no, I’m gonna get sick” eating away at your mind!

Weather changes from below freezing one week to 70 degrees the next. Cold mornings, warm afternoons, and then bone-chilling cold when the sun drops. All perfect backdrops for getting sick. Boy, I sure don’t have time for a set back like being sick.

Getting sick means changing my routine. Missing the gym in the morning or not eating perfectly. When sickness hits so does a case of crankiness, and nobody likes a cranky person around them!

I managed to survive strep thanks to a shot in the buttocks and some antibiotics. I then dodged the flu bullet for now despite a few close to me getting sick.

Packing up the holiday decorations. Restocking the pantry and fridge with healthy eats that are macro-friendly. Getting my goals set for 2020, this year being a big year for many reasons. ‘Tis the season to not be sneezing because there is just to much to be done personally and professionally. Can you relate?

I didn’t even add in the fact that during the holidays you spend extra time with family that can in some ways cause a different kind of stress. Time to get my mind right to tackle 2020 with vim and vigor.

It was not at all fun playing catch up during such a critical time of the year. Let this be a lesson learned to everyone that self-care is very important. Keeping a routine schedule of sleep, healthy eating, good hydration and physical fitness can be a great first defense against the flu as that time of year approaches when germs are airborne. A good winter coat for the climate you are in is a good second defense, along with some vitamin C. And for you clean freaks, don’t forget Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and good old Lysol.

On a side note, I am a big baby and could have had it a whole lot worse this winter but I will plan better next time. Maybe only travel to warm climates in the winter and maybe schedule some days off to have a cushion for the crazy January brings each year. Days off is self-care, right?

On the business side it was a record-breaking year amidst the chaos. I guess it’s true I thrive under pressure. Nasal pressure or board room pressure? I guess it’s all the same. Girl bossin’ and hustlin’ 2020 away.

perspective

Never Say Never

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“I’ve eaten the same thing for lunch every day at work for the last eighteen months,” I told her.

“You mean you eat one thing for a week, then switch to something else?”

“No, I’ve eaten the same thing every single day, week after week after week, 99 percent of the time.”

“Oh, I could NEVER do that!” she responded, in a mix of disbelief and exasperation.

Hm.

Well, I thought, this is a person who appears to be healthy and fit.  Maybe she can eat different things all the time and maintain her health.  Maybe she doesn’t struggle with using food as entertainment / food as comforter / food as problem solver like I do.  If not, good for her.  For me, what has worked with sorting out my nutrition is basically monotony.

I figured out what seems to work and for the most part I stick with it.  Fat-free higher-protein yogurt and coffee with measured creamer for breakfast, chicken Mike Nuggets and protein chips for lunch with lots of infused water. A handful of beef jerky if I am really hungry between meals.  Dinner has a little more flexibility but I prep protein each weekend and choose from there.  If I keep to this all week and don’t go insane over the weekend, my energy, my strength, and the scale number tend to stay in the range where I feel good.  What works for me won’t work for everyone.  Maybe it won’t work for anyone else at all, and that’s fine.  Not a big revelation there, really.

But, what really stayed with me was the word NEVER.

I could NEVER do that.

What would I say I could NEVER do?

There are the nevers I just don’t like.  For example, I could never eat shrimp for breakfast.  I could never own an orange car.  I could never be a school bus driver.  Never is really too strong for all of these…If I had to do any of these things, I would.  But I’d really *really* rather not.  Maybe this is the type of never my friend was mentioning when it comes to my monotonous lunches.

But then I also think about other nevers I have said in the past.  I could *never* do CrossFit.  I could *never* run a half-marathon.  I could *never* weigh under 200 pounds again. All of these nevers have now gone from to-do to ta-da! All of them took effort.  All of them took facing fears.  All of them took questioning myself and the limits I place on me.  These are not just preferences.  They are self-doubts.  Limits.  Roadblocks by choice.

Some of these once-upon-a-time nevers have become among my proudest accomplishments.

As George Addair said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

As I think about my goals for 2020, I’m listening for the nevers in my self-talk.  Are my nevers “I don’t wannas?” Are they “I’m scared to try”?  Are they “I’m scared to fail”?  And if they are fears, maybe that’s a sign I need to put them toward the top of my to-do list?

What are your nevers?  And what are they holding you back from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

celebrations, dare to be different

Toasting A Year Without Alcohol

“So, are you going to the party this weekend?”

“I don’t think so…”

“Why not?”

(Pause…stare…long enough to be uncomfortable…finally blurts out)

“Um, I’m taking a break from drinking right now.”

Just one of several moments that stand out in my mind as I’ve worked through a year without alcohol.

A year without alcohol.

I don’t really want to say a year into sobriety. I think of sobriety as something different. A different level of commitment, perhaps. And I do think I’ll drink again someday. So, right now, it’s just been a year of taking a break.

What has it meant?

At first, it was for my weight. Daily beers add up. Or two. Or three. Once in a while, even more.

When I started the keto diet in January 2018, I just wanted to keep my carbs down, so I switched to vodka. Or hard seltzers. Less carbs, but still drinking my calories.

When I started Stronger U in August 2018, where I learned more about calories and alcohol and the effect it had on my body, I decided to try to give it up for a while. Labor Day weekend turned into a month.  Then I figured I would try for Thanksgiving, then join in the customary wine we have at family gatherings… but once I got there, not drinking turned out to be just fine with me.  I only had to turn down wine a few times, then people left me alone about it. Christmas, same.  And so on.  Summer may have been the hardest, with beer and refreshment season in full swing.  But, once I hit about 6 months, I knew a year was an attainable goal and I wanted it.  And now I am here.

I do believe it has played a significant role in my weight loss and body reshaping. I know it has taken a lot of my belly away.

Beyond that, what else has it meant?

I do come from an alcoholic family.

I have “flirted with” or tiptoed on the edge of alcoholism several times throughout my adult years. I’ve always been able to pull myself out of it, sometimes with the help of family and friends.  Still, since I was 21, I’ve never been more than a few weeks without a drink, except when I was pregnant. So a year is satisfying personally, knowing I have some measure of control over consumption.  (And yes, there were plenty of times I craved a beer this year for whatever reason, but decided not to have one).

What about my friends?  I did stumble over my words when I first started sharing it. But for the most part, people have been nice or just nonreactive about it.  A few have even been curious. I’ve found a few people who have used it as a conversation starter, to talk about their own relationship with alcohol.  Some friends who are trying not to drink have looked to me for support at social gatherings.  It’s easier to not drink if you know others are doing the same thing, whatever the reason might be.

What’s been a bit surprising is how few people really care. If people notice or ask, I usually just say I’m taking a break from drinking.  But, most of the time when I was drinking before, it was a beer (or three) by myself at home at night.  Alcohol wasn’t a huge part of my social ties or traditions.  I think people who have after work drinks with friends or other routines and rituals involving alcohol might have a harder time. I’m grateful it has been simple, and has cost me little while I’ve gained insights and energy for new challenges. 

I don’t miss waking up with a hangover.  I don’t miss feeling out of control at times.  I don’t miss wondering if I’ve waited long enough to get behind the wheel of a car. I don’t miss my beer gut.

If and when I drink alcohol again, I hope I look at it just as I would any other indulgence: a treat to be enjoyed once in a while.  Until then, I’ll be toasting with my mocktails, offering to be the designated driver.

If you’re trying to drop some pounds or wonder if you can go without alcohol, I encourage and challenge you to try it for a week or a month.  You might be surprised what you learn.  Share with us in the comments!