Friday Five: This Summer I Will …

Happy Friday, peeps! I can’t believe it is June already, and summer is just around the corner! I’m linking up again with the DC Trifecta (Eat Pray Run DC, Mar on the Run, and You Signed up for What?!!) and their Friday Five Linkup!   

Today’s theme is: 5 Things I Will Do This Summer

Here’ s my list!

1.  Visit my family in Louisiana.  I decided to throw my dad a big party for his birthday in August and invited all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. My dad will be thrilled! He loves a big family get-together, and I can’t remember the last time we all got together. It will be just like Christmas Eve when I was a kid, and we would all pile in to my MawMaw’s house. I’ve got a LOT of planning to do — Wish me luck!

2.  Head back across the Pond.  Since the hubs works for a French company based in Paris, he travels abroad quite a bit. I was lucky enough to join for a couple of weeks in July last year, and I hope to do so again this year. It would be nice to squeeze in a trip before the end of June, when the big shopping SOLDES (sales) are in full effect! Last summer it was much warmer than usual when I visited.

I took this photo from the roof of my husband’s office building in the 9th arrondissement on Bastille Day. I was shocked that the fireworks show didn’t start until around 11pm on a weekday so that it was completely dark.

Bastille Day in Paris | thewellnessscientist.com

I hope it is at least cool enough this summer so that I can stop in and have a cup of hot chocolate at Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli. The best hot chocolate I’ve EVER tasted! And it comes with a lovely little dish of the most yummy whipped cream! I sat down in the team room last year, but it was SO hot inside (most places in Paris don’t have A/C) the idea of drinking a hot beverage was out of the question. Champagne to the rescue! 🙂

Sipping Champagne in Epernay | thewellnessscientist.com

3.  Blogfest!! 

BlogFest with Sweat Pink | thewellnessscientist.com

Heading down to Anaheim to meet up with my #SweatPink Ambassador sisters for IDEA World Fitness Blogfest! I am super excited to attend the first ever Blogfest with Sweat Pink. Already got my room reserved! Hoping to connect with many more SPAs virtually before the show in August when we meet in person. Are you going??

4.  Score new magazine assignments.  Most of you know that I’m a Freelance Writer, and I write for cool magazines & publications like Z-LIFE (Zumba’s magazine), MAX Sports & Fitness, YouBeauty.com, and others. I’ve been a little lazy with my pitching lately, so I’m going to kick it up a notch & become an idea-generating machine! 

5.  Launch Awesome Beauty Product Giveaways on My Blog.  I currently write about health, nutrition, and beauty. My love of beauty products is intense. I’ve got SO MANY samples to try and review in my beauty closet (yes, I’ve got an entire closet people … it is a sickness!!) Planning to spread the love, though. Sign up to the right of this post for Giveaways, and you’ll be added to the raffle for some awesome beauty product giveaways including luxury brands like Chanel, La Prairie, and others!!! 

 

What are your plans this summer? Got trips planned? Any time for R&R?

Friday Five: 5 Places I’d Like To Run

Happy Friday! I have been absent for a couple of weeks, but not because I wanted to be! I was moving to a new hosting provider, and the migration was not as easy as I had hoped it would be. I’m thinking some of you fellow Bloggers can feel my pain, right?

The really bad part is that I lost ALL of my Blog subscribers! The number of subscribers I had using the plugin from Jetpack is now a big fat zero, and I don’t have all of the email addresses to get in touch & let people know 🙁  So here I go again with an attempt to grow traffic from scratch.  SIGH…

Today I am linking up with Mar on the Run, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, and Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?? for their DC Trifecta FRIDAY FIVE LINK UP.

The theme this week is “Five Places I’d Like To Run.” I’m excited to join this link-up for the FIRST TIME!

Without further delay, here are the Five Places I’d Like to Run!!

1) Vancouver, Canada – The Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon 

Vancouver | thewellnessscientist.com

Image from SeaWheeze Half Marathon

This Half Marathon sounds AMAZING! I saw pics from runners who ran this last year, and the views were incredible. As if the scenery weren’t inspiring enough, there is pre-run yoga & an after-run festival. This run is most definitely on my bucket list. Has anyone run this half? Does anyone want to??? 🙂

2) The Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half-Marathon

Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon | thewellnessscientist.com

Image from http://destinationraces.com/

13.1 miles of running through vineyards and then wine at the end? I’m SOLD! But so are a lot of other folks … this race sells out FAST! Haven’t been quick enough to get a spot  yet, but I’m going to keep trying.

3.  Patagonia, Argentina

Patagonia | thewellnessscientist.com

I’m a sucker for gorgeous views, lemme tell you. Nothing puts a smile on my face like a run while taking in something amazing! Patagonia, Argentina is #7 on the list of 100 Places to See Before You Die. It’s on my list too!  Just … WOW!

4. Springtime in Tokyo, when the Cherry Blossoms are in Bloom

Cherry Blossoms | thewellnessscientist.com

Photo courtesy of El Scrapeo via Flickr
Aoyama Cemetary, Tokyo

My husband took this photo, and though I have visited Tokyo a few times I have not had the pleasure of being there during that precious week when the Cherry Blossoms or sakura are at their finest. Peak season is mid-March, though you can find a more precise schedule from year-to-year posted by the Japan Weather Association! These are my FAVORITE flowers — such a delicate pink. I can’t imagine a better backdrop for a run!

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST

5) Zakynthos Island, Greece

Zakynthos Island | thewellnessscientist.com

And once again, that gorgeous turquoise water has caught my eye!! Though the rugged terrain may make for a tough run, what a prize at the end when you get to relax and enjoy the view from this beautiful beach! I think I’ll just close my eyes and pretend I’m there for a few minutes now 😉

SO TELL ME …

Have you ever run in one of the places? Make me jealous & tell me ALL about it in the comments, please!!

What are some of the places you dream of running? And if you aren’t in to running, how about beautiful places on your Bucket List to see someday?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

DC_linkup

Fitness Friday: Do You Need a Power Nap?

 

Today, February 28th is National Public Sleeping Day! A perfect time to talk about fitting in a 20-minute power nap to boost your energy and thus your fitness abilities.

Remember hearing stories about how Europeans took these lovely long lunches & siestas mid-day & then returned to work? I always thought that sounded so relaxed, even glamorous compared to grabbing a sandwich in a box and running back to a cubicle for another 5 hours glued to an uncomfortable chair.

Nowadays, more & more office environments are instituting those cool sleep pods, sofas, and other comfy places for employees to catch a few winks during the day leading to a more productive afternoon of work. For most of us, the ideal environment is quiet, not too bright, and not too cold.

Here are a few products you may want to check out to make your next power nap a little bit nicer:

 

5 Products For a Better Power Nap

 

1. Cedrus Temple Soother from the Molton Brown Body Remedies Sleep range — dab these essential oils to dab on temples, breathe deep & unwind.

2. SleepPhones by AcousticSheep — a comfy headband containing thin speakers to play music, white noise, and block out external noise while you nap. Comes in three colors.

3. DreamTime Sweet Dreams Sleep Mask with Natural Lavender — eye mask blocks out light while natural lavender soothes & relaxes

4. Pzizz Energizer app — this iTunes music app creates a relaxing soundtrack to help you make the most of your power nap. Built-in alarm makes sure you don’t oversleep!

5. Ostrich Pillow — This crazy-looking contraption is not really a pillow, a garment or a cushion.  Don the ostrich pillow and make any desk/chair/bench a nap-friendly spot.

Are you a daytime napper? Does it give you that added energy boost to get through the rest of the day?

Running and Eating My Way Through The Long Weekend

Last weekend was Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend, one of the much-needed long weekends we get every year. I feel like this year is flying by already, and I don’t know where the time has gone! Finding balance with writing, half-marathon training, and spending time with friends & family has been a challenge. The long weekend was JUST what I needed to get back on track.

I started Friday off baking these Valentine’s Day M&M/Chocolate Chip cookies

M&M Cookies

M&M Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thanks to an awesome recipe from Averie at Averie Cooks. She has some of the most delicious-looking food pics I have ever seen!! Packed up a couple to take to my amazing Pilates teacher, and I was off for my Pilates session at 3.

Ending the evening with a little bubbly and the yummy Champagne & Cheese Fondue that I posted last Monday.  You can see the hubs hard at work making sure the cheese doesn’t stick 🙂

veuve-sm

fondue-prep-sm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kicked off Saturday with a 4-mile run to prepare for Sunday’s long run

sweatshirt

and then headed down to Kula Sweet in Los Altos to visit with Courtney and do a little shopping 🙂

Image courtesy of Kula Sweet Boutique

Image courtesy of Kula Sweet Boutique

Ended the evening with dinner at Palo Alto Sol with Jason. Basically had to roll ourselves home, but it was SO good!

Sunday aka Long Run Day with Jason, Andy, and Courtney. We’re all doing the Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon in just a couple of weeks (gulp!)  We all did a half marathon last year, but I haven’t kept myself in top training shape since then. This will be my first time to Palmetto Bluff, and I’m really looking forward to staying at The Inn and exploring the area.

Planned to run 9 miles through & around Stanford campus. Weather was gorgeous and luckily we had Andy to weave us around the most interesting parts of campus and keep the run fun. BTW, no filters used on this pic – it was this clear & this blue!!!

stanford-campus-feb

 

After the run, we had a great and well-deserved brunch at the Coupa Cafe at the Stanford Golf Course (yep, still eating!) I was thinking about the French toast I was going to order during the ENTIRE run!!!  Gotta stay motivated, right?  LOL

Ended the day with a quick shop for dinner at home and a nice soak using the Aches & Pains relief bath salts that Village Naturals Therapy sent me.

Village Naturals Therapy Bath Salts

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to walk on Monday after the long run, but these soaks did the job! So happy that I wasn’t stiff the next day.

Monday, last day of the long weekend (sigh), but I guess it had to end … Took a MUCH NEEDED rest day from the past couple of days of training. Last big ticket item on the long weekend agenda was a drive up to San Francisco to meet Audra, Jonathan, and Parker for dinner! My first time meeting this little guy!!

Parker

He is a doll & hilarious! Definitely kept the waiter on his toes :-))))

All in all, it was a great weekend spending time with the hubs, laughing while catching up with friends, keeping up with half-marathon training, and of course eating along the way 🙂

What did you do over the long weekend?

Was it action-packed or did you take a much needed time-out?

 

 

 

Brands that Give Back: Treat Yourself and Support Breast Cancer Research in October

Hello, lovelies!  I would be remiss if I didn’t dedicate my first post of October to an area of great importance to all women …

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS

The CDC’s website says:

“The best way to find breast cancer early is with a mammogram. If you are a woman age 50 years or older, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years.”

I’m not sure when the recommendation changed from age 40 to age 50. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, you should talk to you doctor about getting screen sooner.

A few stats from the CDC’s website, for your information:

How many people get breast cancer each year?
In 2009:

211,731 women and 2,001 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer.
40,676 women and 400 men in the United States died from breast cancer

 

The support to find a cure for breast cancer is immense.  I remember doing my first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k back in 1999. Walking along with these people, both survivors as well as friends and family, was such an amazing feeling. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such emotion and support as I did during that event. It was amazing!

Every year, brands give back by developing and selling products from which a portion of the proceeds will go to organizations such as The Susan G. Komen Foundation, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and many others.

Every day in October, I am featuring one of those products on my Instagram feed. Follow me on Instagram & don’t miss a single one of these products.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think of doing this until October 2nd … SO, the first product I posted was on Wednesday, October 2nd.

This awesome PINK pie plate called the Bake For The Cause Pie Plate is made by French company, Emile Henry.  10% of the proceeds from each pie plate sold will be donated to Breast Cancer Research.

Emile Henry Bake For the Cause 9"-Pie Plate

Emile Henry Bake For the Cause 9″-Pie Plate

 

Today’s featured item is an AWESOME pair of PINK skinny jeans from True Religion.  You’ve been doing your squats & leg work religiously, right?  I think you deserve these!  Ten percent of sales will go to Susan G. Komen!

HALLE SUPER SKINNY BREAST CANCER JEAN from True Religion

HALLE SUPER SKINNY BREAST CANCER JEAN from True Religion

Stay tuned to my Instagram feed for a new product that gives back every day during the month of October.

Question: Know of a product that I should feature? Please let me know about it in the comments below!

 

Other posts you might like:

Eat Chocolate, Help Save the World!

How to Be Your Best Self

 

 

 

 

 

10 Fun Things To Do This Summer

School may have started already, but we still have Labor Day to look forward to and a whole month of summer left.

Before summer’s end, try a few of these fun summer ideas.

10 Fun Things To Do This Summer | thewellnessscientist.com

Having fun makes us happy, and happiness is a part of good overall health and wellness.

Summer Fun

  1. Have a barbecue & eat outdoors
  2. Watch the sunset
  3. Go swimming
  4. Play mini-golf
  5. Go to the beach and build a sandcastle
  6. Buy produce at a Farmer’s market
  7. Ride a bike (or trike)
  8. Go for a hike
  9. Take a weekend road trip
  10. Turn off the AC and sleep with the windows open

I’m sure there are tons more summer fun ideas.  What would you add?

 

Live With Intention

When I woke up this morning, as many other mornings, the first thoughts I had were of course my to-do list.  While I was having my cup of coffee, I started thinking about how easy it is to let the day pass by while just living passively.

I decided that I wasn’t going to do that today!  Instead, I was going to make sure I was living with intention.

Live-With-Intention-sm

You’ve probably hear this saying before … it was made famous by Mary Anne Radmacher years ago.  Her entire quote is:

“Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen Hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.”

Did you live with intention today?  If you did, that’s awesome!  If not, think about what living with intention means to you and what you can do differently tomorrow to really make it count

 

Eat Well, Travel Often

Greetings! Didn’t want to miss my weekly post, so I’m writing from Paris.

eat-well-travel-oftenEat Well, Travel Often is one of my favorite sayings — and its pretty tough to visit Paris and not eat well.  I’ve had some pretty amazing meals and treats on this trip so far, and the pace is so much different than home.  Here, it is very common to spend 3.5 hours at dinner just relaxing and enjoying the courses and conversation.  A very nice change of pace, and you can see that everyone really seems to be enjoying life.

Dessert at Jean Rue Saint-Lazare, Paris

Dessert at Jean
Rue Saint-Lazare, Paris

This photo is an amazing strawberry and pistachio dessert that we had at Jean — talk about incredible!  The proprietor, Jean, was an incredibly nice guy and was happy to accommodate my request at the time of reservation for a vegetarian menu.

The great thing about being in a city like Paris is that you *can* spend 3.5 hours eating and not feel bad about it because you walked 7 miles seeing the sites all day!  I have definitely not skimped on exercise!  And with the temps being in the high 80s — woah…

Today, I visited the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin) and explored the gardens.  I was about to leave when I looked at the map once more and realized that I hadn’t seen one of Rodin’s most famous works, The Thinker.  I was able to snap a quick picture amongst the loads of tourists trying to do the same.  Was definitely worth the walk (and only 1 euro for the garden tour!)  More exploring to do this evening!  Hope everyone is having a great week!

The Thinker (Le Penser) at Musee Rodin (Rodin Museum) Paris

The Thinker (Le Penser) at Musee Rodin (Rodin Museum) Paris

An Intelligence Gene? High IQ May Be in Our DNA

 

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Always been the smarty pants in your group?  Awww, SNAP!  Chances are, it’s in your DNA.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

A study of Dutch families (Gosso MF et al., 2006) found that Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) rs363050, located on the SNAP-25 gene is associated with “performance IQ” (i.e. non-verbal IQ).

Each copy of “A” at rs363050 in a person’s genotype increased the subjects’ performance IQ by an average of three points compared to those with no copies of “A”.The authors estimated that rs363050 accounts for 3.4% of the variation in performance IQ between people.

I learned this little tidbit while exploring my Health Traits on the 23andMe website.  A single user-posted question, “Is There Anyone Else with 2 Copies of the Gene for Intelligence?” sparked over 260 replies from users sharing their genotypes, those of their family members, as well as IQ scores, SAT/GRE scores, levels of degrees obtained, and much more to both support AND oppose the findings of this research.

When you get down to brass tacks, no one who fancies him/herself as intelligent wants to look at their own genotype & have it read otherwise … anymore than someone wants their Kindness Gene genotype to tell them they can’t be empathetic.

Of course for this and other similar discussions, there is the nature vs. nurture debate … it can be challenging to study heritability or genetic differences in intelligence due to the fact that it is difficult to rule out other factors such as environment and opportunities (Rowe et al., 1999; Turkheimer et al., 2003).

What are your thoughts re: intelligence and heritability vs. outside influences such as environment?

Have you been tested on 23andMe?  If yes, was your genotype what you expected?

 

 

 

 

How To Be Your Best Self

That particular week seemed more difficult than others.  I felt angrier and my patience was pretty much nonexistent.  I remember sitting in a team meeting and, for no reason, tears started to well up and I discreetly left the room so that no one would notice.

I was leading a very big project at work, and things were running as smoothly as one would expect, but I was literally on 24/7.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a day off.  A year or two maybe, with the exception of Christmas day.  For about two years, I had dreamed of going to a destination spa I’d discovered online.  I could practically feel the tranquility through the photos on the website.  In a minute of desperation, I called the spa & was told they had availability for the next week.

meditation-lake

1) TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

The spa was usually booked weeks in advance, so I took their availability as a sign, booked the trip, and committed to taking the next week off.

The timing wasn’t great from a work perspective…in two week’s time, I was going to be hosting a conference with over 100 guests flying in from around the world.

But some crisis or extremely urgent work matter was always on the horizon…there was never a good time to take a day off, much less an entire week.

Sound familiar?

My colleague swore that she’d get in touch with me if there was any out-of-control emergency that should couldn’t handle herself.  I let out a big exhale, and a few days later I was off!  And you know what?  The office didn’t fall apart, the conference was a huge success, and I did a better job hosting because I was able to relax and recharge.  Anxiety gone.

Take time for yourself.  You deserve it.  Jobs come and go.  Bosses you admire move on to other jobs.  You are with yourself for the long haul … so give yourself the down time you need.

2) NURTURE YOURSELF

We’re all grown-ups with jobs, relationships, and maybe kids of our own, but there is an inner child in all of us that needs nurturing.  Instead of nurturing that inner child, we busy ourselves and/or pick up bad habits to avoid feeling alone, sad, or inadequate.

I used to be the queen of negative self-talk.  My diet was awful, I didn’t exercise, I drank coffee or soda all day, and I didn’t get enough sleep.  I was even going to therapy, but I wasn’t doing the work I needed to do outside of that hour/week, so it took a really long time to get where I needed to be.  That was my path.  I made it, but I wish I hadn’t suffered as long as I did for no good reason.

Take the time to take care of yourself physically.  Get a physical every year.  Have you blood drawn and check for things like high cholesterol on a regular basis.  Drink water, eat healthy foods, and get the amount of sleep that you need.  No job in the world is worth feeling miserable every single day.  If you don’t take care of yourself, who else will?  And what about the people you take care of?  If you can’t take care of them, who’s going to do that?

Make self-care a priority. You will never regret it.

3) LET GO OF YOUR CONTROL OBSESSION

When I arrived at the spa, the control freak in me was delighted to find that someone had carefully selected a full day of yoga & exercises classes, short wellness seminars, and body treatments for me based on my “pre-arrival interview,” and I had schedule waiting telling me what I’d be doing the next day.

Desperate for soul-nourishing, I had decided in advance that I was going to become a yoga devotee during my week away.  On my first morning at the spa, I showed up to the first yoga class on the schedule, just before 8 a.m.  I found myself a spot at the front of the class, little overachiever that I was.

Then something happened, instead of the instant bliss-fix that I had planned, all I could feel was the pain and tightness of my hamstrings and my hunched shoulders.  I started to feel defeated, like I had failed before I had started, and I couldn’t stop the negative thoughts spiraling in my mind.

The teacher invited the class to “open our hearts.”  (OK … I’m actually embarrassed to admit the first thought that popped into my mind, but if one person can resonate with this, then it’s worth it!)  The first thought I had when this teacher said “Open Your Heart” was “F-YOU!”  I was actually angered by this complete stranger’s suggestion that I trust her and allow myself to become vulnerable.  Inside I was screaming, “I’m here, aren’t I?  I’m trying!!!  What else do you want from me?”  Somehow I viewed her kindness as an intrusion — a criticism that I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I couldn’t get past it that week.  I wasn’t ready to give up control.  I toughed out that class until the end, but I never went to another yoga class the entire week.

Luckily, there was more than yoga planned to improve my wellness that week.  A couple of days later, I met with Sarah, my assigned personal trainer.  I was in my early thirties at the time, but I felt like I had the body of an 83-year-old!  Like on The Biggest Loser when they tell the contestants “Your body age is actually 79!”  That was what I felt like.

Sarah was nice, but she was there to prove a point.  She challenged me with “heavy” 10-lb hand weights and encouraged me during the interval training she had designed for my session.

That 1:1 experience was what I needed, along with a little positive reinforcement.  I was able to let go and be vulnerable.  I started running outside after that meeting with Sarah, and it was during those runs that I was able to feel a certain freedom.  Once I let go of the need to control any and every situation (which is impossible, by the way), I finally felt like the universe was on my side.

My advice here?  Just let go.  Sounds easier said than done, but it is incredibly powerful.  If you need to talk to a professional or a friend, coach, or mentor to get there, do it!  Once you stop fighting, it gets so much easier.  And you’ll be so much happier.

4) BE GRATEFUL.

One of the most popular items on the schedule that week was a one-hour wellness seminar called “How To Be Happy.”  I think every single person in attendance that week was packed in to the room for that message!

One of the big takeaways from that session was practicing gratitude.  We were asked to keep a gratitude journal for the rest of our stay.  Before bed each night, we were to write down five things that we were grateful for each day.  In doing so, we were creating a scenario where we were looking for positive things that happened during the day.  It could be something big like, “I’m grateful for the amazing personal trainer I met today and the way she encouraged me” or something as small as, “I’m grateful that we had cheesecake for dessert tonight — I love cheesecake!”

Keep a gratitude journal.  You’ll spend the day looking for things you can write about, making it harder to focus on negativity or problems!

5) TRUST YOURSELF

A few years later, I was rummaging through a closet and found the binder of resources I had taken home with me from the spa to continue working on my goals.  I found a little note that read:

“Great job this week! You can tell you feel refreshed.  Keep this feeling going by exercising daily.  You have to make yourself a priority — you deserve it!”

Wise words!  I made a risky decision and started a whole new career and chapter in my life.  Today I make my living writing about health, wellness, and self-care.  I also coach women who are looking to make healthy changes to their lives and improve their level of happiness.  I eat healthier, I get more rest, and I make exercise and my personal relationships a priority.  I’m happy to say that once I was able to silence my inner-critic, I also came to enjoy yoga and its many benefits!! 🙂

Trust yourself.  We deserve much more care and kindness than we tend to give ourselves.  And really, the only validation we need is our own.

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