Summer Book Club- The Ultimate Guide

A well-read woman is a dangerous creature- Lisa Kleypas (but it is also a form of meditation, a get-away, a way to connect with others and understand perspectives)

My June intention was to read more and, boy, did I. I read so much that I forgot to stop and write about it. The culmination of this month was to also start a book club with my girlfriends and they did NOT disappoint.

Recommended Books

5 STARS Thriller/Mystery (from the first chapter to the last sentence)

A Stranger in The House by Shari Lapena was my first experience with this author, but it only took me one chapter to realize how much I enjoyed her writing. I was at the beach with a friend while reading this book, and my gasps, comments and eagerness to finish this book made her desperate to read it as well. I read this twisty mystery in just 4 days and passed it along to 3 other friends who also couldn’t put it down.

Knowing I really enjoyed Shari Lapena’s writing style, I searched for more of her books. I downloaded “The Couple Next Door” on audible and have enjoyed the discoveries, confessions, and suspense of this book just as much.

4 Stars ( probably would have been 5 Stars if I were still on the beach reading)
5 STARS (I didn’t see any of it coming)

Delia Owens’, Where the Crawdads Sing, is such a wonderful read about a young girl who fights through abandonment, heartbreak, forgiveness, and abuse. All the while, an investigation of a high school star athlete hovers over the small North Carolina town. This book has been passed to two of my colleagues that have highly recommended it as well.

4 STARS

This month’s Book Club Book was chosen with the help of Reese Witherspoon’s book club “hello sunshine– she hasn’t let me down, yet. Thank you Reese.

This story hit a cord for every One of us in our book club in a different way. The themes in this book include motherhood (all the different kinds), girls growing up/coming of age, family dynamics, race, class and love/heartbreak. It follows four different families with contrasting lives and circumstances. The different turning points are brought to a crescendo. We were all disappointed in the ending because so much was left to our own assumptions. It didn’t close up in a nice little bow, but the overlapping storylines made for a intriguing read.

A memoir for the FAN

I have been a fan of the podcast “My Favorite Murder” for over a year. when I found out that Karen and Georgia were writing a book- and Paul Giamatti was reading sections of their audio book- I HAD to read it. It was a quick read, and the audiobook made me feel even closer to my friends from the podcast. This book gives fans an even deeper insight, making you feel even closer to them. They are advocates for true #selfcare and make their journey with therapy a very ‘normal’ and much needed part of a healthy lifestyle.

Self Help

Brene Brown has become a true idol for me- and a personal therapist. Her words of wisdom, storytelling, and ‘real’ reactions to life have helped me with my anxiety and perfectionism. This book was recommended to me by my actual therapist, and it has allowed me to embrace the ‘wholehearted’ idea. It has also helped me connect more with my children, open up even more with friends, have compassion for myself, and courage to be imperfect. It is a journey, and her words help.

Book club the Right Way

This book club was a first for three of us, and I wanted to make it fit our style. So. ..Each member of the club drew the name of 2 characters from the book. With that, each person had to come with a DRINK and a FOOD/Appetizer that represented that character from the book.

I was the host for this first meeting, so I created the questions (thank you http://arlenesbookclub.com.

My friends went above and beyond to make this a club never to forget; Julia dressed in the century of the book – (while I dressed in Pajamas). Deanna researched and created a REAL lemon pie from the town in Cleveland along with a Moody Blues shot that rocked my world. Courtney was the only other member of the group that has participated in an adult book club, and she said “this was the first time she was in a book club that actually talked about the book.”

So, all in all, it was a great night, AMAZING book and we enjoyed it so much we chose July’s book and the meeting date.

Join us for the July book – It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell


Key to Happiness: Hygge Manifesto

“Danes are the happiest people in Europe according to the European Social Survey” (The Little Book of Hygge). Denmark is also known as one of the happiest countries in the world.  Why?  Hygge (pronounced   hoo-ga)

This month, I am on the journey of hyggestund – A moment of hygge- ‘well-being’ and happiness.  I plan on incorporating the 10 ideas of hygge in my life this month as I pursue a month of gratitude and savoring the simple pleasures in life.  In short, I plan on finding the happy. First, I must get my environment and mindset ready for a month of COZY!

1. Atmosphere

turn down the lights

use natural lighting (fireplace, windows, let the natural light in)

Use dim lighting (candles, lamps)

2. Presence

meditation of mindfulness

turning off my phone alarms

3. Be kind to yourself- give yourself a treat and give yourself a break

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Sun Salutation A

4. ‘We’ over ‘me’

Sharing tasks – cooking, laundry, cleaning

5. Gratitude 

show it to your tribe, co-workers, challengers, and self

say ‘Thank you’

Smile

journal

6. Harmony 

finding balance in your physical and mental health

find your Sparkle

Do everything with Passion

7. comfort

cozy blanket

warm bath

music

yoga pants

8. truce

End the fighting within yourself

leave the negative, the drama, and the hostility

9. Togetherness

Focus on your village, your tribe

Find time to build relationships, connect, and be together

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 reading nook

10. Nook- hyggekrog 

comfy space

So, my plan is to spend time outdoors gardening, hanging-out with my village, evenings with my family, Sundays working together on chores, and reading in my nook. I plan to Continue my yoga practice.

I am also going to start a macramé wall art project and prepare for an evening with my friends- outdoor fire, BBQ, TREATS, and being together.

All of this in the hopes to bring together all of my favorite things into 1 month of gratitude, well being, and HYGGE!

I hope you follow me on my journey this month. Please send me pictures of your HYGGE on Instagram. 

@omnivore2herbivore #hyggelife


Life: A Balancing Act?

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Balance is something that I struggle with EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I feel as if it is more of a trade off than a balancing act.  There are times I realize that I have been placing too much attention on my career and my marriage suffers.  Then, there are times that I am focused too much on myself, and my sons suffer.  I have come to the realization that Life is NOT a balancing act, but more of a give and take- even feeling like a tug-o-war sometimes.

I do have it all.

I have a wonderful marriage (a true partnership).
In my eyes, a successful career- one that keeps moving in the right direction.
Two great sons that remind me of what fun and true love really is every day.
Friends that celebrate, cheer and comfort me.

“Women can have it all- a successful career, happy marriage, and motherhood. It’sIMG_0024 not one or another. It’s about being able to fit it all in with stride. A strong woman can have all this because we were built for it.” – Strong by Kailin Gow

Being in the moment, present enough to celebrate the highlights is what I struggle with. I focus a lot of my attention on the future, my failures, and my NOW what- always have.

I have become a ‘To do List’ master.  My accomplishments come down to crossing off the task on the post-it note or scrap of paper.  Too many vision boards, too many bucket lists, too many things I would like to accomplish.

“To a chronic multitasker, everything is a task. Soon, the things in life that are really important to them are in the same list as everything else.” – Stephen R. Covey

This month my intention is on my yoga practice.  I have successfully taken time every single day this month (so far) to roll out my mat, taken time for me to be present and mindful in the moment.  At first, it was an item on my list- it has successfully become apart of my day, a routine, a habit.  I have realized my time on the mat is my practice of mindfulness, a time to slow down and appreciate ALL of the Moments of the day.

IMG_0020“We don’t need to strive towards balance, we rather need to work on the obstacles that are preventing the natural flow of balance.”- A.A. Alebraheem, When Life Makes Sense

I want to be a loving mother that prepares my sons for their lives.
I want to be a supportive, caring wife that is forgiving, understanding, and giving. 
I want to be a friend that motivates you, celebrates you, and cheers for you.
I want to be successful in my career; someone who is known for the impact that I am leaving. 

All of the obstacles that prevent me from believing that I am not any of those things messes with my equilibrium.  But, it is the time that I spend in reflection, the time I spend on the mat that helps me analyze all of my failures and successes equally.  I am given just enough time to realize what is important at the moment, push aside everything else that doesn’t matter and focus in on my priorities. Yoga gives me a peace of mind.

“We cannot find balance because it’s a continual action with ongoing adjustments, just like the tightrope walker who constantly moves.” – Tina Hallis, Sharpen Your Positive Edge

Life is not a balancing act.  Life is about being in the moment.

I am grateful that yoga has given me the willpower and fortitude to prioritize my values.  I am a work in progress and yoga is very forgiving.

Just like life, if you fall out of a pose, get right back in it. 

It is a practice based on self-awareness, self-love, and mindfulness.

 

 


Vulnerability: Weakness or Strength

This month, my intention was set toward sobriety.  I was able to reset, gain awareness and accomplish a sense of empowerment that I never could have imagined. I do feel amazing, but I want to continue the year with the intention of moderate, mindful drinking.  This experiment allowed me to dabble in a place of vulnerability that Had always scared me. Being that open has always been a sign of weakness, risk, or uncertainty for me. Allowing others to see what I consider my short-comings is scary and it makes me feel powerless. This month I realized by allowing myself to be vulnerable- I am also allowing myself to be courageous, empowered and STRONG.

I invite you to show a little vulnerability in these last few days in February. I challenge you to take a risk and show others how strong you are.

Start by Asking yourself this question “Vulnerability is _______”.

When I ask myself this question, I answer it many different ways…

  • singing karaoke
  • dancing
  • running a half
  • saying goodbye to loved ones
  • racing in a triathlon
  • crying
  •  parenting
  • standing in front of a faculty of 60 teachers and presenting professional development
  • apologizing for making a mistake
  • admitting I was wrong
  • confessing that I have an anxiety disorder
  • becoming a vegan
  • admitting that food was the enemy
  • asking for forgiveness
  • teaching
  • coaching
  • talking to a stranger
  • letting someone get to know you
  • falling in love
  • Adulting
  • blogging

When I look at my list of ‘vulnerability’, I don’t see weakness. I see courage,

I see a risk taker

and I see strength .  

I see a list of accomplishments.  

If this weren’t my list, I would admire this person for their bravery.

Now, ask yourself “How does vulnerability make you feel?”

  • like butterflies
  • like a rollercoaster
  • I can’t breathe
  • sweaty palms, shaking cheeks, jaw clenched
  • jumping off the high dive
  • all in
  • fear
  • encouragement
  • where fear and courage meet
  • ah-ha

Every one of these emotions is what truly makes me run and hide from vulnerability.     and brings all the emotions of anxiety OUT in the open.  But when I am witnessing true vulnerability from someone else, I am in awe.  When I watch students perform, present information, or overcome obstacles I am brought to tears because it is in their bravery that they were able to accomplish something so awesome.  When I watch my 2 boys jump into the pool, run on the soccer field or go in for a touch down, I am overcome with emotions.  Their courage allowed themselves to achieve greatness.

Finally, ask yourself “What is worth doing even if you FAIL?”

  • alcohol experiment
    • I wasn’t completely successful, but the coping skills I have learned have been completely worth it
  • running and training for a half marathon
    • My hips hurt, my knees hurt, my arches hurt, BUT crossing that finish line was so worth it
  • My job
    • Every single day I am vulnerable, but every single day I know what I am doing is important
  • Being a mom
    • My two boys don’t have a perfect mom, but my world is so amazing because of them
  • Being a wife/partner
    • We don’t always get it right, but I get to do life with my best friend.

I don’t completely look forward to my vulnerabilities that are in my future, but I will embrace them as a sign of my strength and not my weakness.  I look forward to the challenges, the risks and the uncertainties that they will bring. I am grateful for the tools I have learned already this year.

Embrace your vulnerabilities, see them as your strength.

(This reflection was sparked from Rene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly)img_2716


Eat Your Water; Top 15 Hydrating Foods

As you all know, my intention this month has been on hydration, and in just 3 weeks I have already noticed a change in some of my habits.

A. I used to go to sleep dreaming about my 1st cup of coffee 

B. Now, I wake up eager for my glass of salted, citrus water

A. I am used to having a glass of wine 5 out of 7 days of the week (don’t judge). 

B. This last week, I only had a drink 3 out of the 7 days (and I didn’t miss it)- so, I might be ready for my February intention.

A. Drinking water used to be a ‘chore’

B.  Now, it is just apart of everything, and even a little interesting. 

This was a tough week as I have been dealing with, NO battling, vertigo all week.  I was in denial early on in the week, but after three days of dizziness and nausea (and a difficult 15k,) I decided to finally stop trying to WILL it away and get some help.  One of the side-effects of vertigo is dehydration due to the constant nausea and sometimes being dehydrated can be a cause, so I made sure to be very intentional this past week with the food choices I was making because drinking a lot of water made my stomach very queasy. Here are just a few things I did to make this a bit easier and better for me…

  • I intentionally packed soup and salad in my lunchbox every single day for a hydrating lunch
  • took out some of the dehydrating foods from my diet (list is below)
  • Premade my ‘Quench Your Thirst’ smoothie on Sunday for an easy snack throughout the week
    • I purchased an $8 water carafe for my bedside table
    • Added a humidifier to our bedroom (the heater was drying us out)

The top 15  hydrating foods one should add to your weekly diet…

  • Cucumber
  • coconut
  • Celery
  • Romaine
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Green pepper
  • Pineapple
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach

I created 3 recipes this last week that added as much from this list as possible

quench your thirst smoothie 

  • green apple, cucumber, celery, coconut milk, spinach

instant pot cauliflower potato soup

  • spinach, cucumber, tomato

Top 10 dehydrating foods you should cut from your DAILY diet – These should be foods that are used with caution and in moderation. 

  • coffee – Use Coconut milk to cream your coffee
  • alcohol – a great alternative is to add a tonic or sparkling water to whatever you are drinking 
  • asparagus – this is why it alters the smell of your urine
  • bacon
  • ham
  • sausage
  • soy sauce – great alternatives are Coconut aminos or liquid aminos because they have less sodium
  • popcorn (this was one of the hardest for me to hear) – try air popcorn or Quinns sea salt Popcorn – stay away from the microwaveable buttered popcorn. 
  • fried foods
  • sugary drinks (soda, diet soda, Gatorade, Capri-sun, JUICE)

Please, leave a comment and share this post if you find this information useful.

Thank  you


Smarter Hydration

This past week my intention was on EZ Hydration Habits with a focus on hydrating at key times throughout my day; when I first wake up, 6-8 ounces before every meal, and a ‘smart’ drink after running.  

Thank you for the comments, the questions, and the inquiry from my last post. I was very surprised with the amount of feedback I received from my last post, and it made me realize how important this topic was for everyone.  I know we are all looking for an easier way to stay healthy, feel better, and manage stress, And hydration is something everyone can start to focus on TODAY. No need for new workout clothes, a membership to an expensive gym, and (The best part) no diet restrictions!

Some of the concerns that came up through my conversations were…

addition of water = increased restroom breaks 

addition of salt into the diet – I thought sodium was bad.

Is Gatorade a good option for quick hydration?

Is there such a thing as Too much water?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

Chia seeds aren’t just good family fun, they are THE smartest way to hydrate.  When you drink a glass of water with chia seeds in it (1-2 TBSP), the chia seeds will absorb the water and help the water remain in your body longer.  This allows your body to balance the electrolytes which will aid in stamina and endurance (great for distance athletes) and give your body time to soak it all in!

  • Add 1-2 TBPS of chia seeds to 6-8 oz of water and let it sit in the water for 10 minutes or overnight (even better) allow the seeds to absorb the water and become gel like.  Shake the water before drinking. 

img_2551.pngThis should slow down the amount of ‘potty’ breaks within the day, and it will allow your body to maintain hydration instead of washing out (something that can occur if you drink too much water).

Sodium Confusion

From my last post, I talked about the morning glass of water having a pinch of one of these salts.

Himalayan Salt

Sea Salt

Rock Salt

Celtic Salt

When it comes to adding salt to your diet and your water it is QUALITY not Quantity. These salts contain trace minerals that your body may have lost throughout the night.  This small step allows your body to balance the electrolytes needed to stay hydrated.  Start salting your water NOT your food.

Better Than Gatorade (When Water is not enough)

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I have experimented with a few drinks this week to replenish after running.  They both tasted great, kept my muscles hydrated, and helped me recover quickly.  Even if you aren’t a runner, these drinks helped my husband recover from a fun evening and my own children from a day of bicycle riding.

Instead of giving my family a sports drink that contains a ton of glucose (125 calories and 35 grams of sugar), I chose to…

add a Nuun tablet to 12 oz of filtered water and 2 tsp of chia seeds- the                  boys loved the strawberry lemonade flavor.  

I mixed 4 oz of our favorite Kombucha, 2 TBSP of chia seeds, pinch of sea salt, and 12 oz of filtered water after my long run on Saturday.  

Low sugar options that hydrate with fast acting carbohydrates and electrolytes that allowed everyone to recover from dehydration symptoms. FYI – Sugar requires a lot of hydration for your body to process and filter.

Water Intoxication

img_2552.pngThere is such a thing as too much water.  This can cause lowered sodium and potassium levels, muscle cramps, and can strain the kidneys and heart which can make you feel tired.  Who would have THOUGHT?  This does require a healthy person to consume a liter of water within an hour, so I am sure many of you aren’t chugging 33 oz of water, but I just want you to be aware of all the facts.

Smarter Water Options

Switch from Almond milk to Coconut milk

img_2535(Try 4 oz coconut milk with 12 oz of warm water , 1 -2 tsp of Cardamom and cinnamon to your coffee- Tasted like a Chai latte)

Drink coconut water instead of Gatorade

Explore the different flavors of the sparkling water craze- Waterloo Cherry is my favorite

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This upcoming week, my focus will be on Eating my Water. (look for my post next weekend.) I plan on adding hydrating foods into my daily diet and pulling out some of the dehydrators that are causing some of the symptoms that are still sticking around.

I hope you are joining me on this adventure.  Let me know how it is going.  I want to hear  about your goals, your swaps and how it is affecting you.

Share and leave a comment


Quench Your Thirst: Hydration Habits

Eight years ago I suffered from severe dehydration.  I was teaching multiple aerobic classes throughout the day during a 100 day heatwave in Texas.  My husband had to rush me to a Care Now facility after vomiting for a few hours in terrible pain, where I proceeded to vomit and then pass out.  As I sat in the emergency room of the hospital hooked up to an I.V.  shaking from the rush of fluids entering my body, I realized at that moment how important hydration was.

75% of Americans are dealing with Chronic Dehydration

Symptoms may include (are not limited to)…

fatigue

moodiness

brain fog

constipation

Thirst

skin’s lack of elasticity

poor circulation – fingers and toes are often cold

headaches

This is due to…

desk jobs

fast food laden with bad sodium

SODAs and Sports drinks and Juice and COFFEE

bookI have been reading Quench by Cohen and Bria these past few days and have already learned so much about how to hydrate correctly, when to hydrate and what to eat to keep me hydrated.  This book takes the general rule of 8 glasses a day and flips it completely upside down.

 

 

 

Just a few habits I have tried to start in this first week of my January intention; optimal hydration, include…

A glass of lemon water when I wake up with a pinch of sea salt

I sliced a lemon and added water to a large mason jar and placed it in the fridge. Each watermorning I pour 8-10 oz of water into a FANCY cup (wine glass usually) and add a pinch of sea salt or Himilayan salt to the water.  I gulp it down while my coffee is brewing.

Why lemon?  Helps rid toxins from your body

Why Sea salt or Himilayan salt?  Just a pinch to add sodium, micronutrients and minerals back into your system.  Over the course of the night, a % of that was lost through breathing and perspiration. Stay away from regular table salt – as it does not have the minerals that your body needs.

at least 8 oz of water before every meal

This is two-fold: 1. you get your digestive system running smoother- adding water back into your bloodstream, which gets everything working again.  2. It fills up your stomach, so you aren’t eating on an empty stomach.

only 2 cups (16 oz) of coffee every day

Coffee is known as a dehydrant and mild diuretic but it does affect your hydration levels until AFTER you drink 24oz.  According to my calculations, You can consume 300 mg of caffeine before your body starts to show affects of dehydrations (that is equivalent to 2 tall lattes from Starbucks). I don’t recommend that much, as it is still a diuretic but I get the need for a nice tall latte.

Use of a Brita water filter

fridgeThis is just pure convenience.  If water is cold, and I don’t have to sit for a long time at the fridge door for a full glass, I will drink more.  This filter was only $20- it holds 12 cups and the filters (3 ) were also $20- the filters are good for 2 months each.

 

 

 

Carry around a cool water container 

I’ve had this water container since the start of the school year.  I like the small incremental goals which make me feel accomplished every hour.  I bought this from Uncommon Goods. ONLY $20

bottle picfunny

Humans are made up of about 60% water, and we lose about 10% of that water daily JUST through breathing, sweating, and urine/bowel movements.  Now, if you workout, drink a lot of coffee, or alcohol- it is even more.  No wonder, just a few changes to my lifestyle has helped make a few noticeable differences. 

In just 1 week- actually just 6 days.  I have more energy.  I ran 18 miles in a span of 5 days and never felt that CRASH that I normally do. Believe me, my legs were tired but I had enough energy to organize play rooms, rearrange bedrooms, and meal prep for the week.  I have noticed that I haven’t really been that hungry, and my cravings for BREAD has gone down quite a bit.

I am training for a half marathon and my long run was on Saturday which was completed in record mile pace!  I am not completely sure if that is my training or the hydration- maybe a combination of the two, but I felt really proud.

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I am feeling pretty accomplished this week.  Setting my intention was the easy part, Skimming the shelves at Barnes and Noble for a book that would educate me and set me on the right track was also pretty easy. Now I just need to stick with it.