Rockin’ Jeans and The Great Fitness Experiment

Welcome to the second full week of May, folks. Hope all of you are well.

Poor hubby should be in recovery by now. The anniversary/wife’s birthday/Mother’s Day annual event is over again. Every year the poor guy gets slammed.

Back to business: I subscribe to more blogs than I can keep up with, but I do try to hit on each every now and again. This one absolutely made my day. It proved I’m not out of my mind—okay, maybe just a touch less than I thought.

I always enjoy posts by Charlotte Hilton Anderson, author of The Great Fitness Experiment (book and blog that go by the same name). I’m sure she is far fitter and way more fitness-savvy than I’ll ever be, but she also tends to be very real. A post she aired about two weeks ago caught my attention big time.

She talked about jeans, about how hard it is for those who work really hard at building and sculpting their thighs to buy jeans that fit them well and comfortably. Believe it or not, those with “musciliscious” thighs (which I’ll never have), experience problems with jeans very similar to those of us blessed with “ample” body parts and the so-called-healthy pear shape. Gapping waistline, “sausage legs” when fabric hugs thighs too tightly—those of us who love jeans know how elusive that perfect-fitting pair is to find.

She also mentioned a company named Barbell Apparel that is getting ready to launch a line of jeans that fit well-muscled folks. I figure, said company can only benefit the well-endowed crowd. (Here’s a Washington Post article that shares a tad more detailed, for those who are as excited about this as I am.)

Getting back to my questionable sanity, Charlotte helped me feel a lot better. I’ve recently gotten into some barre workouts. (Some related posts, including a link to my favorite video of same, are listed below.)

In the past month, since I added the barre workout(s), I’ve been feeling really good physically. As I commented on Charlotte’s post, however, I’ve also been noticing that my never-will-be-musciliscious-thighs seem to be growing despite the exercise efforts I’m putting in.

Perhaps they are, for once, maybe for the right reasons. Who knows for sure?

My weight has held now for about five years. Yes, it’s more than I want but still a good 25 pounds better than when I started making lifestyle changes.  The evening before I wrote this post, I nervously put on a pair of pants that had been sitting in a bag for two years—one of those pairs I had hoped to “get into” after losing 5-10 pounds.

I’ll be danged if I didn’t do just that–with my weight still where it was when I bought them, I’m pretty sure.

Joanna--04-26-2014 (Of course real estate between the waist and the knees is undercover–it’s all about illusion, right? ;) )

Anyway, this is a big thanks to Charlotte for helping me realize that I’m not totally crazy—and for inspiring me to try on those pants. BTW, a pair of black jeans that fit awesome were in that bag too. Those just got hemmed at the tailors! Yay for jeans that fit well!

Rather than drag this one out, next week I’ll talk about Italian mothers and how they influence one’s self-esteem so well, lol.

So, where do you stand on this topic? Do you like jeans? Does fitness make you feel good or frustrate you? Did you ever consider that fitness had drawbacks?

Here are the links I mentioned above:

Sometimes It’s About the Littlest Things

Can One Book Change Your Life?

Healthy Snacks? I’m Thinking Not–Part 1

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result In Inspiration!

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result in Inspiration! (Part 2)

My (current) favorite ballet barre workout :)

Have a great week folks! Please don’t hesitate to SHARE should you like the content or feel moved to do so in any way!

Until next time,

Joanna

 

 

Questions: Part of the Writer’s Make-Up

Hi all,

Hope all is well with all of you. I’m trying to stay consistent but no promises for now. Life has this loverly way of getting in the way while I make plans. Ever happen to any of you?

The other day I caught up with a post about asking questions from my good friend and author, Stacey Wilk. This article in particular sparked one of my longer-winded comment responses, which I figured would work nicely as a post of my own. Doing so also gave me an opportunity to point those of you interested to check out her li’l corner of the WWW.  She always brings up highly relatable topics of interest, and does better than I keeping her thoughts short and to the point. :)

Stacey talked about people misinterpreting the intent behind many of the questions she poses in the many settings she frequents. (Reading her post will give you a bit more background. She definitely got me thinking.)

MHO: asking questions is this writer’s nature. I want to have a first-hand account of information whenever possible, as I believe it lends authenticity to the situation in any story. And yes, people have looked at me strangely, ESPECIALLY when I was so focused on my question I didn’t think ahead to how the recipient might perceive the inquiry…

Case in point: I wanted to know about survivor benefits in the event a police officer is killed in the line of duty. AFTER I introduced myself to our school’s DARE officer as a writer, I went right for it. Don’t remember her answer, just the look on her face.

Another time, I queried a Yahoo! group about a fairly serious pediatric condition relative to one of my novel’s storylines. Not only did I get responses based from medical personnel who did this for a living, someone connected me to his daughter, who’s infant son had lived through this condition. (I’m an east coast girl; she hangs her hat at the Pacific end of the continent.) I spent a good 90 minutes on the phone with her, and took tons of notes. She even offered a photo  of her son from the recovery room, hooked up to tubes galore. Let me tell you, I believe there is authenticity in the related fictional write-up.

I have no plans to stop asking questions or looking up information. Person on the receiving end is free to NOT reply, and I typically preface my inquiry saying so. Nor do I know where my query will lead. I’m a firm believer in “the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.”

Anyway, thanks again, Stacey, for inspiring me in more ways than one. And as always, my gratitude to all of you who so kindly scare precious time to stop in, read, comment and/or share.  Words cannot express how appreciative I am.

Take care and have a great day and week,

Joanna

Fast Forward to Managing Holiday Stress!

Hi all,

Hope all is well with everyone! If I don’t get these posts into place the weekend before, life on the day-to-day gets so busy-nutty, I can’t make the time to catch up! Just last night, hubby-the-hero-not-a-plumber-but-gets-the-job-done (and I, the assistant) wound up making an  unscheduled trip to my mom’s to do an unexpected faucet installation. And seems every night something else is going on. It is what it is, right? (Though I offer no complaints. There are those in serious and dire situations. I am inconvenienced.)

But, that does tie nicely into…

Wow. As a kid there was no way I could understand why adults found the holiday season so stressful.  Christmas is only a small part of the pressure-I’m-feeling deal; all credit, too, to my younger son (14 y/o) who loves the decorating (inside and out), tree-trimming and gift-wrapping enough to take over most of it! Hubby handled lights inside so the place has a loverly glow in the evenings. They’ve done a phenomenal job and taken a lot of the work load off of me! Thanks, men!

IMGP2101

I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.

I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.

This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, "Santa's Footprints." It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, “Santa’s Footprints.” It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

Back to the original reason for this post! I’m sharing my dear friend Diane Lang’s article on handling the holiday season in a more peaceful, positive way. Here is the link to her most recent article! If it speaks to you, please feel free to share and possibly come back here to share your thoughts on her timely tips!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Joanna

Retrain the Brain for Success in 2013!

Yep. Hate to admit it, but a new year lurks around the corner, friends. Thanks for being patient with me lately. Ever since Superstorm Sandy made her way up the east coast I can’t seem to get it together. (I’m also working on an extended post that connects to it, but that seems to have loomed as large as the storm that inspired (?) it. 

So what does a blogger do in the meantime? Lean on the help of friends, thank you very much. Here is  the latest from therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang–and exactly what this blogger needed :)! I so thank her for the today’s tips and now turn the blog over to Diane…

      

Before we know it the holidays will be in full swing and another new year will be on the horizon.  Now is the time to start reflecting on the past year (not dwelling – there is a difference) and looking forward to a new year.  As we set goals and resolutions start preparing now for success in 2013 (and still for 2012!), here are nine tips to retrain your brain for success:  

1. Thoughts produce actions. Change your actions/behaviors by changing how you think. Be self-aware of your negativity. Once you are aware, you can make changes.

2. Know your triggers. What locations or people cause you stress? Once you figure out your triggers, you can set up boundaries and limitations.

3. Make positive affirmations a daily habit. Start every day with a positive thought. For example: I’m healing from an illness so I wake up daily saying, “I’m healthy and happy!” or “I’m feeling better each day.”

4. Listen to yourself talk.  Remove words such as: I can’tI won’tI shouldn’tI don’t wantcould,wouldmaybe, etc. Use new POSITIVE words: I chooseI canI wantI amit’s my choiceI’m free to, etc.

5. Emotional detox. Remove the toxic people from your life. Moods and emotions are contagious so you want to surround yourself with positive people. If you’re surrounded by toxic people, they can drain you and bring you down.

6. Change the things you can control.  When making changes work on things you CAN control; if you constantly work on things you can’t control, you will be setting yourself up for failure. You will feel frustrated and stressed. Work on what you CAN.

7. Clear your emotional debt.  What old thoughts or habits are you holding onto? What need is it fitting? What new thought could you replace it with? What are you afraid of?

8. Visualize the change.  What does your life look like with the new changes and thoughts? How do you act differently? How do you feel? How has your environment or people change? Visualize you with the new habits/thoughts. If you can see it, you can get there!

9. Stick with it!  Be patient, kind and gentle with yourself. Change is a process that takes time and work.

As always, Diane’s thoughts and tips are right on time and I’m always grateful to have them to share with all of you! Please feel free to contact her at her website, and please consider adding one of her books to your gift-list for that special person who–like me–might need to slow down!

Have a great day and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Joanna

SAD–Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 2)

Welcome to Thursday, friends and followers. For those whose kids brought home pillowcases full of Halloween candy, good luck on dealing with having it in the house, lol! If you’re stuck with leftover candy and/or acquired way-too-much to keep, you may want to consider looking into local programs that ship candy to our military personnel overseas. Sometimes what appear to be the smallest acts of kindness can bring joy to folks under a totally different type of stress–and who doesn’t love a care package?

   

Back to today’s topic! Last time, my dear friend Diane Lang discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder and some of its apparently known causes. (Here’s the link to Part 1–please remember to come back!)

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder – 10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Blues 

There are treatment options for SAD so you can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days.  Here are some tips to help prevent the winter blues:

1. Get as much light as you can even when you’re indoors. Open Tahoe shades, roll up the curtains, move your desk near the windows, etc.

2. Spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. After a few days of spending some time outdoors, you will start feeling a little better.

3. Add exercise into your daily routine. Exercise, even just walking, produces endorphins and reduces stress hormones at the same time so you get a boost of happiness.

4. Make sure to add some fun into your life. Even though the weather keeps us homebound, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Instead of feeling trapped inside, find ways to engage in things you love.

5. Be social even in the winter months. Adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need.

6. Take a vacation. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.

7. Try “Light Therapy.” We know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of SAD. There are certain lights you can buy called “Light Therapy Box” which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits.

8. See a counselor before winter starts. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help.

9. Medications - Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.

10. Psychotherapy (i.e., counseling) is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.

What I love about Diane’s tips is how practical each is–and most at little to no damage to one’s wallet or purse. #3 is probably my saving grace. Exercise–especially walking and/or dancing to my favorite tracts–keeps me upbeat. The endorphins–i.e., feel-good hormones–released when one exercises regularly are for real. And feeling good about how I look just bumps up my mood and outlook that much  more!

As always, special thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and ideas! And to you of course, for stopping by and adding to the possibilities via sharing what has worked for you. And if you please, won’t you take a moment click one of the SHARE buttons?

Take care all!

Joanna

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 1)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope all is well in your respective worlds. (Somehow, I’m getting by without tennis but that might be a good thing, lol.)

So: Fall is in full swing and the chill is upon us! If there were one season I could skip, it would be winter. Don’t hate it but I don’t look forward to it.

         

Summary:  As the cold weather approaches, therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, explains what Seasonal Affective Disorder is, symptoms of it, and 10 tips to prevent the winter blues so we can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days. 

It’s almost that time of year again — cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight.

For parents, winter is a tough time — finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter.

On top of that some parents (and non parents) have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression isseasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are havingseasonal affective disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.

2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.

3.  The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.

4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.

5. Social withdrawal – loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. I know a few clients who “hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months, they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities – they start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.

The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is still unknown, but we know environmental factors plays a role. I have a client who lives in upstate New York near a lake and gets “the lake effect” where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter. This client has had SAD at the same time every year since his move to upstate New York.  We also know that SAD can run in the family – genetics plays a role. SAD is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.

Think we’ll stop here for today, class. Thursday I’ll post Diane’s 10 Tips to prevent the winter doldrums. I know I start counting the days until spring beginning with the winter solstice! 

Have a great day!

Joanna

Ten Tips To Sweep Out Stress–Declutter Your Life

Hi everyone,

So sorry I’ve been MIA these past two weeks–keeping up with added running around on my to-do list and not all of it mine, lol. Hopefully, life will return to normal sooner than later.

Lucky for me I’ve got wonderful friends sending great content this way. Then I get to share with you! Here are Diane Lang’s top ten tips for minimizing stress. (Thanks, Diane!)

BIO: Diane Lang – Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist – is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert. Lang is extremely mediagenic and offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living. Lang offers expertise in multiple mental health, lifestyle and parenting needs.  In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Centenary College.

     

1. Basic needs – Make sure your basic needs are met. Keep a journal for a week of what you eat, how much sleep you get, did you exercise, etc. At the end of the week you can get a clear picture of what’s going on in your life and what changes you can make.

2. Gratitude – start your day off with gratitude checks – this will help you see things clearly and change your perspective.

3. Can/can’t control – work on what you can control. If we continue to work on things we have no control over, we will always feel frustrated and stressed.

4. Social support – have a support system set up.

5. Self soothe – when things become stressful and you’re feeling out of balance, find ways to calm down by doing activities that soothe you such as a bath, talking a walk, listening to music, etc.

6. Pay it forward – we always feel happier when we help others.

7. Exercise is the one of the best and most natural ways to de-stress. If we walk four times a week for 30 minutes, each time we get the similar results as taking an anti-anxiety drug.

8. Nature instantly calms us – spend more time outdoors.

9. Add variety to your life and spice it up. Every time we try something new we get a boost of happiness – when you’re happy you are less stressed.

10. Enjoy the simple things in life – take the small things you love like a cup of coffee, talking to your friend, reading a book and actually enjoy it. Spend time doing that one activity.

I love how number 10 ties it all together, as every one of these suggestions really is simple and easy to employ. I try really hard to incorporate each one but sometimes fall short with #4 and #9.

Your turn! How do you destress? Any of the above areas you feel a need to work on? Did you get the Halloween candy yet?

Have a great week, friends,

Joanna

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