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?

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

 

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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Eat Chocolate, Help Save the World!

I love socially-conscious vendors.  People who are in it for more than just a profit, thank you!  I’m not going to give up my two squares of after-dinner dark chocolate, so I want to support these chocolatiers with a cause!

Rescue Chocolate

Photo courtesy of rescuechocolate.com

Photo courtesy of rescuechocolate.com

With a motto of “the sweetest way to save a life,” Rescue Chocolate (out of Brooklyn, yo!) donates 100% of its net profits to animal rescue groups around the country.

All bars are:

  • Organic & Fairly-traded
  • Vegan
  • Kosher

I haven’t tried these chocolates yet, but their bars called “The Fix,” which is made of 66% cocoa and “Pick Me! Pepper” (mmm… spicy!) are on my list to try next.

Check ‘em out here!

Endangered Species Chocolate

endangered-species-logo

Endangered Species Chocolate (out of Indianapolis, IN) was born out of a desire to make an impact on the growing number of plant and animal species that are disappearing from Earth.

Their darkest chocolate bar boasts an 88% cocoa content (can you handle it?)

Photo courtesy of endangered species chocolate - chocolatebar.com

Photo courtesy of endangered species chocolate – chocolatebar.com

All bars:

  • Use Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Cocoa
  • Non-GMO Verified
  • Gluten-Free
  • Vegan
  • Kosher
  • Fairly-traded

10% of the net profits go to support species conservation & habitat preservation.

Theo Chocolate

Seattle-based Theo is proud to be the first Organic, Fair Trade, Fair for Life certified Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory in North America.

Their chocolates are:

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan
  • Kosher
  • Soy-free
  • Organic & Fairly-traded

In Seattle?  Go visit them!  I’ll bet they give out free samples 🙂  I’m hoping to try their new Congo bars (Pili Pili Chili, please!)

Photo courtesy of theochocolate.com

Photo courtesy of theochocolate.com

$1 from each box sold will benefit Eastern Congo Initiative’s work with farmers, mothers, and families in eastern Congo.

If you know of other socially-conscious chocolatiers, please share them with me below!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! My Favorite Winter Dry Skin Fixes

No matter where you live, winter weather can be very drying.  Over the years, I’ve tried countless products to keep my skin from getting too dry.  Some work, others not so much.  Here are a few of my favorites that I think you’ll like too.  Your skin (and lips!) will thank you for it! 🙂

For hands:

I’ve been looking for a hand lotion that was “the one” for years.  Last year, I finally found it – Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl.  I’m telling you… this stuff is the business!  It’s touted as an anti-aging hand and cuticle cream, has an SPF of 25, and it smells amazing.  I wish I could insert a scratch and sniff sticker here, really!!!  It is a bit pricey, but if you are looking for a great hand lotion to keep your hands soft and young-looking then look no further – this is it!

For body:

I also discovered my new favorite body lotion last year, Epicuren Lemongrass After Bath Moisturizer.  Until then I had always bought lotions, used a third to a half of the bottle and gotten sick of it.  This was recommended to me after I had laser hair removal on my legs.  I’m telling you, this is the first time in my life that I remember using an entire bottle of lotion (and I bought the BIG bottle)  Can’t rave about it enough!

 For face:

People are always telling me that I don’t look my age (keep those comments coming, people!).  While I know genes account for some of it, I also believe in my skincare regimen.  I use La Prairie Anti-Aging Day and Night Creams.  The day cream has SPF 30.  Both smell nice and are not too overpowering fragrance-wise.  I swear by these products.  Add a little vitamin C-based serum underneath during the winter months for extra moisture.

For lips:

I find lipstick and lip pencils very drying this time of year. I found a perfect solution to keep a little color on my lips while keeping them from getting all dry and cracked – Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balms (my favorite shade is Red Dahlia).

Those are my favorite products to beat dry skin.  What are your favorites?  Tell me about them at the bottom of this post.

 

How To Be Happy

Ah, happiness … why does it elude us sometimes?  We work hard, we’ve done everything we are supposed to do, but that happiness fix seems just out of our grasp.

When I googled “How To Be Happy” before writing this post, there were more than 2.5 billion search results returned.  Seems like we are all on the same quest.

One of Audrey Hepburn’s famous quotes – “The most important thing is to enjoy your life — to be happy — it’s all that matters.”

But how do we do it?  Most of us don’t think of happiness as a kind of good health.  Getting happy and staying happy involves just as much self-care as scheduling regular visits with our doctors, therapists, and personal trainers.

Part of being a good health coach or wellness coach is the ability to dig deep & figure out what is eating away at us that causes us to overeat or have unsatisfying relationships.

People often ask me, “Why Do I Need Wellness Coaching?”  We are all unique individuals, so the solution to health & happiness is unique for each and every one of us.  In fact, I’d bet if MORE people had personalized wellness plans developed for them, they wouldn’t need a therapist AND a personal trainer — they’d be setting and achieving goals that broke through both their physical and mental health barriers.

Here are some things you can start doing immediately to Get Happy:

1. Practice gratitude.

Once a week, think of just one thing you are grateful for and write it down. The more specific you are about why you are grateful, the more successful this is. Remember not compare yourself to others. When you do this, negative thoughts creep in. Focus on YOUR life!

2. Experience life.

You don’t have to go far — just get out of the house!  Sitting on the couch watching TV isn’t getting you anywhere – literally! – and it’s could be making you depressed.  Even if you don’t want to, take a walk and be grateful for the beautiful scenery around you. Or, get up early one morning and go to a place where you can watch the sunrise. It is a beautiful thing to witness, and you have an opportunity to do it every day.

3. Commit to an attitude of gratitude.
Start each day by saying “I am grateful.” My friend has a small bell hanging in one corner of her office at work. Every once in awhile, someone will brush past it as they enter her office, and the bell softly jingles. This is her private reminder to herself to count her blessings. Find something that works for you.

Other articles you may enjoy:

The Science of Gratitude

What Makes You Smile?

5 Things You Can Do to Feel Better Instantly

 

 

A Sure Way to Stress Less? Aim for Happiness

Studies show that on average, Americans spend 75-80 percent of their waking time complaining.  When you complain, your body interprets that as a stressful situation & releases adrenaline.

 

Dr. Frederic Luskin, a consultant in Health Promotion at Stanford University, says “Stress is a perception that I do not have what I need to satisfactorily handle my life,” “Stress is wanting what you do not have, and happiness is wanting what you already have.”

Happiness is Wanting What You Already Have| thewellnessscientist.com

Seems simple enough, right?

As I shared in my previous post, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, today’s emotional stressors trigger the same “fight or flight” response that our long ago ancestors used to feel when running away from wild animals that wanted to make them dinner!

When that happens, stress hormones are released causing your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise (among other harmful things).

We need to learn to slow down a little, practice mindfulness, and taking note of what causes us to feel stressed out.

One way to stress less is to make happiness a goal.  Cultivating happiness means nurturing personal relationships, practicing gratitude, helping others, and shooting for your dreams.

Other posts you might like:

Why Boundaries are Important to Your Health

How to Get Your Happy Fix

Being Inspired by the Ordinary

Multitasking vs. Mindfulness: The Science of Stress