relax

The Three R’s

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Rest is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for ALL ages.  It rejuvenates your body and mind, regulates your mood, and is linked to learning and memory function.  On the other hand, not getting enough rest can negatively affect your mood, immune system, memory, and stress level.

The three R’s for maintaining a healthy lifestyle have nothing to do with natural resources and waste management, although those are GREAT things to practice for the environment (reduce, reuse and recycle).  Rather, most importantly, the three R’s that need to be a part of our lives consistently are rest, rejuvenate and renewal.

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Rest

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1. Make time for down time.  Consider a leisurely walk or a 5-minute mini meditation.  Just close your eyes and focus only on your breathing for 5 minutes.

2. Follow a routine.  Consider waking up 10 minutes early each day for some simple stretches to start your day rather than jumping into high-speed mode.  Stretch and wind down before bed each night.

3. Give your mind a break.  Consider participating in an activity that directs your mind to full attention on that task.  Fully “be in the moment,” which will give your mind a mental break from a nagging “to do” list.

Rejuvenate

Rejuvenation

1. Schedule your “me” time.  If we don’t take the time to step back from the chaos, even a few minutes each day, and rejuvenate that emotional energy, we soon run out.  We crash.  Carve out a few minutes EACH DAY to catch up with friends, paint your nails, read, go for a jog, or even just meditate.  That small moment can refill your emotional bucket and ready you for the evenings’ madness.

2. Journal.  Take 15 minutes to think of the positives in your day or something you look forward too.  Write.  Practice gratitude.  Being thankful truly is a natural stress-buster and antidepressant.

3. Splurge and get a massage.  Not only will this ease sore muscles and release stress toxins from your body, but you will feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for life!

Renewal

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1. Get creative.  Creative renewal is such an important part of the creative process.  Every mind goes stale after a while.  You need to empty your cup.   Do you paint?  Start an outline or watercolor.

2. Enjoy the outdoors!  Turn on the Discovery channel or tune into David Attenborough or repeats of the late Steve Irwin to get enthused about this wonderful world you inhabit.  Better yet, get out into your garden or the local park.  Go hiking.  Get down on the grass and watch the ants.  Follow a butterfly or gaze closely at a pretty flower.

3. Embrace your hobbies!  Pleasures can bring a lift to your mood.  Because hobbies generally incorporate pleasures into your life, maintaining hobbies can be good for your overall sense of joy in life.  As well, gratifications can lead to a reduction in stress and a sense of well-being, and hobbies are usually experienced as gratifications.  If you want more happiness and less stress experiences in your life, hobbies provide a direct route to gratifications that can lead to this.

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The three R’s are just as important as maintaining a good diet and exercise for our overall well-being, and quite necessary for our joy and health.

Wishing you all a rejuvenating weekend,

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WANTED: More Hours In A Day

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“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  – James Howell, Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659)

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Over the past few weeks (or longer) I have slowly (and rapidly) been burning out.  Long work days (usually 10 hours and sometimes longer) and online classes with homework leave little time for pleasure or relaxation.  On average, I am in front of the computer approximately 14+ hours each and every single day.  Everything has become chore-like for me lately, even walking, which I love to do.  Same schedule, different day.  Same work out routine, different day.  My time off work is spent working!  I don’t know about you, but this equals severe burn out and feels like a mild depression-induced routine.  In all honesty:  I hate it.

Truly, we all have different crosses we bear.  What do we do when we have a routine like this?  Of course, we all know we must make changes, but what if you cannot make a dent of a change in a full schedule in your life?  I am still experimenting myself.  It is imperative that we MUST make changes eventually.   I know I cannot continue on this type of routine day in and day out without feeling awful mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  There is just not enough “me” to go around.  A vicious cycle isn’t it?  But, the fact of the matter is: life still happens.  We still have our responsibilities and obligations, our families need us, chores cry out to be finished, our pets are hungry and in need of attention, extra school work on top of an occupation if you are finishing your degree later in life, on and on and on…and there are only so many hours in each day.

Yesterday I had a half day off and I knew I had to do something different to nourish “me” and get back to feeling like my old self.  And I did it!  Spring is here, and the weather has been teasingly beautiful lately (today it is 77 degrees where I live).  I was thinking of naming this blog something like, “how to have “me” time for under $10″ or “can you have fun for less than $10” or even “is it possible to have a great day for little or no cost?”  But, that was not the point in how I spent my day yesterday or what I want to share with you all in this blog now.  Most importantly, I want to share how utterly important it is to have therapeutic time for yourself regardless of an insane daily and weekly schedule.  Is it possible?  I believe it is.  It will take planning and thought and action.  When we become desperate enough, we will look for ways to do this.

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I decided to change  my work out yesterday morning (because my goal was NOT to have a same thing, different day kind of day!).  I started Tony Horton’s 10-Minute Trainer, ABS.  It felt SO good to do something different and really it did kick my butt! I would so recommend this plan for ANYONE with limited time (like me) and the desire for just doing something different with their work outs.

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**Note: You can get the FREE DVD BONUS Workout—Tony’s Fountain of Youth yoga (a $19.95 value)—when you buy 10-Minute Trainer here: http://www.teambeachbody.com/shop/-/shopping/10MinTrainer?referringRepId=208213


(All of this for $79.90, but 10% off this price if you become a club member! Pretty good deal if you ask me!)

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I was now ready for a few hour adventure out of the house.  I am so blessed to live so close to the beach and the mountains.  I decided to take my little dog to a beautiful park at one of our local beaches for a long walk, Marina Beach Park, and have time for playing ball,  just letting the sun shine on my face and enjoy the sounds of the pelicans and scents of the ocean air.  Little did I know we would have a delightful surprise: lots of seals!  My dog has never before seen a seal and this was actually pretty comical.  Was it a dog?  A cat?  A monster?  (We call rats and rodents “monsters”).  Instead, it was a baby seal that was coming closer and closer to us, crying out to his/her mother, and my little dog, Buddy, quivered and growled and stayed put on my lap not sure what to do but protect me!

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Here is part of the pathway we walked:

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Children LOVE this ship:

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My favorite view of the bay side:

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Our next stop was for lunch!  Just me and my dog!  He truly is the PERFECT DATE!  (My husband was at work)

I splurged and had a glass of cold white wine and we shared grilled fish tacos outside on the patio at Duke’s Grill:

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Our delicious & healthy lunch:

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Here is Buddy, lounging on a cushion, runny eyes from the sand, lip sticking to his tooth looking much like a Chupakabra!

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To conclude, I feel so refreshed today because I took some “me” time to relax, play, enjoy, savor very special moments and I also found a pretty rock on the beach that will remind me of this day.  I also ate healthy and had a new work out.   My total bill for this delightful time was $7.08.  Yes, under $10!

Even though it was only a couple hours, it felt like a full day off.  I am a happy girl today and wish you a refreshing moment every day in YOUR life routine!

~The joy of living comes from a heart of thanksgiving.~

Wendy

Love to walk!

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“All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.” -Hal Borland

I love to walk, especially in the early mornings on a beautiful day with my dog, Buddy.  Walking is my favorite way to get my daily exercise.  I do not listen to music when I am walking, rather I love to hear the sound of the birds and the rustle of leaves from a gentle breeze.  I talk with my dog.  I talk to God. This is my peaceful, therapeutic time just for me.

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Based on research studies, walking on a regular basis has the following health benefits:
Regular physical activity, such as walking, can also make you feel better, because it:
  • Helps keep your bones, muscles, and joints healthy
  • Reduces anxiety and depression, boosting your mood
  • Helps you handle stress
  • Helps you feel more energetic
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves your self-esteem
  • Gives you an opportunity to socialize actively with friends and family.

This is my favorite walking partner, Buddy, as a puppy four years ago:

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Pretty cute, huh?

Unbelievably, this little guy walks me!  During our walks we engage in a variety of walking from stopping for potty moments, leisure walking and definitely brisk walking.  Our usual walking dates are about 45 minutes.

This is Buddy now, still a small guy, but boy can he scoot!Image

Beginning to Walk
If you struggle to exercise each day, why not try walking?  Start slowly if you are not active now. Try to walk 5 minutes a day for the first week. Walk 8 minutes the next week. Stay at 8-minute walks until you feel comfortable. Then increase your walks to 11 minutes. Slowly lengthen each walk by 3 minutes, or walk faster.  I find that if I walk 30-45 minutes daily I feel just fabulous.  Additionally, the stiffness and aching from my arthritis lessens dramatically when I regularly move and walk.
Some other tips for walking include the following:
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes with a lot of support, including proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick, flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk frequently, you may need to buy new shoes often. You may wish to speak with a podiatrist about when you need to purchase new walking shoes.
  • Wear garments that prevent inner-thigh chafing, such as tights or spandex shorts. Also wear clothes that will keep you dry and comfortable. Look for synthetic fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
  • Make walking fun by walking with a friend, family member or pet. Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping mall.  Scenery makes a walk joyous and refreshing.
  • Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with you.
  • Wear a knit cap in winter for extra warmth. To stay cool in summer, wear a baseball cap or visor.
  • Think of your walk in three parts. Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes. Then increase your speed and do a fast walk. Finally, cool down by walking slowly again for five minutes.
  • Do light stretching before and after your walks to warm-up, loosen up and cool-down.
  • Try to walk at least three times per week. Each week, add two or three minutes to your walk. If you walk fewer than three times per week, you may need more time to adjust before you increase the pace or frequency of your walk.
  • Start gradually to avoid stiff or sore muscles and joints. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time.
  • Set goals and rewards. Some examples of goals are participating in a fun walk or walking continuously for 30 minutes.
  • Keep track of your progress with a walking journal or log.
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(Hawthorne tree-lined streets in our neighborhood from yesterday.)
The more you walk, the better you may feel and the more calories you may burn. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. If you cannot do 30 minutes at a time, try walking for shorter amounts and gradually working up to it.
Always be aware of your surroundings and if you walk at dawn, dusk, or night, wear a reflective vest or brightly colored clothing.
Stretch gently after you warm up your muscles with an easy five-minute walk and again after you cool down. Try doing the following stretches. Do not bounce or hold your breath when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far as you feel comfortable.
Some nice stretches I do before and after my walk I have listed for you:
Side Reach
Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Wall Push
Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about three to four feet away from the wall. Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight, with your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Knee Pull
Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight line. Pull one knee to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Leg Curl
Pull your right foot to your buttocks with your right hand. Stand straight and keep your knee pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your left foot and hand.
Hamstring
Sit on a sturdy bench or hard surface so that your left leg is stretched out on the bench with your toes pointing up. Keep your right foot flat on the floor. Straighten your back, and when you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your right leg. If you do not yet feel a stretch, lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch.
walking-benefits
The best part of my walk yesterday was loading up my jacket pockets with a few samples from neighborhood trees!  Most of our neighbors have fruit trees in their front yards or overflowing to the walkway paths from their back yards.
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(Mandarin orange tree)
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(Avocado tree)
Wishing you a beautiful week filled with walking!  Enjoy the early spring blossoms!
Wendy

Friday night journal…

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I am so excited to shut off my computer today at 5:30!  I am also really excited that today is Friday!  Better yet, it is raining and I have a fireplace.  A perfectly cozy Friday night is in store for me!

I have never in my life tried Yoga.  I received my very first gentle Yoga DVD in the mail this week and am going to try it out this evening.  30 minutes to stretch and unwind after a long, long day.  (I will be coming back to talk about this DVD next week.)

Tonight I am also going to splurge and have a nice glass of chardonnay while soaking in the hot bath after Yoga.  A cup of Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup topped with some oyster crackers for dinner, then time reading my book with pillows propped all around me in bed afterwards.  Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?  I just have not decided which order I am going to do all these lovely activities!

Wishing you all a wonderful Friday night too!  Keep Choosing Consistency for the nurturing of YOU,

Wendy

Dust off!

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If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
~Frederick Douglass

In looking back, I can see so many struggles within my struggle to finally make a firm choice to change my lifestyle habits. I personally do not believe radical changes make for lasting progress. Usually it is the baby steps which do get us there. Really absorb each healthy choice you make and journal your progress. Journaling will help remind you on the difficult days. And, there will be difficult days. I believe each person’s journey holds a different time frame of struggle until we finally break through the obstacles holding us back.

There will be days when we fall back into old habits. Do not let these define you or cause you to feel defeated in your goals. Most importantly, give yourself grace! Be especially kind to yourself. New lifestyle changes are replacing unhealthy past habits. Instead, let these fall-backs be motivators to dust yourself off and begin again. Every positive choice you make for your overall health does not go wasted. Never. It truly is amazing how neglecting ourselves becomes easier and quicker to identify once we have stepped into healthy living.

Did you have a binge meal or a few too many glasses of wine? Journal how you felt the next day. Then re-hydrate yourself with water and green tea. Get back on tract with eating those foods which are good for you.

How did you feel going a day without some exercise? May be take a nice 30 minute walk the following day to step back into your regime and journal how you felt afterwards.

Lastly, has your schedule been so insane (like mine can be!) that you have neglected to take some time to relax with your favorite book, enjoy your hobby or really share quality time with family and friends? What about some quiet time with God?

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Pencil in some time today for some relaxation and Keep Choosing Consistency,

Wendy