Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Life of Leisure

Lately, I have been doing a lot of working (my real job and pool managing), running, eating/grilling out with friends, wine drinking and watching my new obsession, "Damages." It's a tough life!

Don't mess with these chicks!

This past weekend I even got to go back to Prom! Even though I do not work at MBK anymore, my friends still let me accompany them to dances:) They are so nice. 

My mentee and I at dinner

Some MBK ladies.

Posin' with the admin!

Fabulous friends!
In other news, I am officially DONE with selling tickets after school at MBK for sporting events...once my new school opens, the location won't be convenient for me to go back to Meadowbrook to sell tickets after school. I had my last game last Tuesday. It was a good 3 years of ticketing/coaching! I will still visit. And I will no longer get as much reading done...

Also, even though I have a 12-month position now, I am still helping to assistant manage at the pool I worked at last summer. This long weekend I was there every day! My certification is still good and it is an easy gig, so I figured I will work 2 shifts a week through the end of June and then only once in a while in July and August when my vacationing and work schedule pick up. You know I am a sucker for extra traveling money and a tan:)!

Enjoy the end of May!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May Days

Hello! 

May is flying by- but doesn't every month? We are in a heat wave here in VA, so I am miserable on my runs and sweating when I sleep (I refuse to keep my condo cooler than 75- so fans it is!). Welcome to summer- spring come back! I knew that as much as we complained about the cold winter, we would soon be complaining about the heat. I am only happy when the highs are 50-80 degrees, so I am almost always unhappy with the weather! I do enjoy the sunshine early in the morning for my runs, though, but I do not like it being light so late in the evening. I think the sun should be totally down by 8 PM because that is when I want to be in "bed" mode.

I have been working, running, hanging out with friends, eating and reading the last few weeks. Not much else is new! I am not traveling anywhere this month, so that is sad, but June and July should be two good months of weekend trips to the beach and a big trip to Greece:)!

I did go to a baby shower this past weekend, and I must say, I am getting better at buying baby shower gifts. I also have one at work this Friday. My go-to items are WubbaNubs, changing pads/covers, bedding, bibs and onesies. Can't go wrong!

Also, I found an awesome fajita recipe on Pinterest that you must try. Chicken, onion, bell peppers and fajita seasoning in the Crockpot for 6-8 hours on low. Delicious. I mix mine with rice, but you could be legit and actually make fajitas. That is a few too many steps for me. And I always forget to buy guac and salsa. Oh well.

I also am re-watching the entire series of Friday Night Lights. If you are one of the few people in this world that have not seen it, please make that a priority. It is such a good, REAL show, and I cry more watching it than I do any other show. Some episodes give me the chills. SO GOOD.

Here is an awesome montage that played before the final episode. Chills! 


Have a great week!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Since spring is here and summer is approaching, a lot of people I know are trying to get back on the bandwagon of eating healthy. All the fresh in-season fruits and veggies are making it much more affordable! A few summers ago I read a lot of books about nutrition and the one that stuck with me the most is "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. I am linking the most important food tips from Mr. Pollan that I mostly follow (hey, not perfect over here!) when selecting what to buy and eat, especially when trying to maximize my healthy eating habits.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
To medicalize the diet problem is of course perfectly consistent with nutritionism. So what might a more ecological or cultural approach to the problem recommend? How might we plot our escape from nutritionism and, in turn, from the deleterious effects of the modern diet? In theory nothing could be simpler — stop thinking and eating that way — but this is somewhat harder to do in practice, given the food environment we now inhabit and the loss of sharp cultural tools to guide us through it. Still, I do think escape is possible, to which end I can now revisit — and elaborate on, but just a little — the simple principles of healthy eating I proposed at the beginning of this essay, several thousand words ago. So try these few (flagrantly unscientific) rules of thumb, collected in the course of my nutritional odyssey, and see if they don’t at least point us in the right direction.
1. Eat food. Though in our current state of confusion, this is much easier said than done. So try this: Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. (Sorry, but at this point Moms are as confused as the rest of us, which is why we have to go back a couple of generations, to a time before the advent of modern food products.) There are a great many foodlike items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food (Go-Gurt? Breakfast-cereal bars? Nondairy creamer?); stay away from these.
2. Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best. Don’t forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim that it was more healthful than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to give people heart attacks. When Kellogg’s can boast about its Healthy Heart Strawberry Vanilla cereal bars, health claims have become hopelessly compromised. (The American Heart Association charges food makers for their endorsement.) Don’t take the silence of the yams as a sign that they have nothing valuable to say about health.
3. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.None of these characteristics are necessarily harmful in and of themselves, but all of them are reliable markers for foods that have been highly processed.
4. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. You won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer’s market; you also won’t find food harvested long ago and far away. What you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of nutritional quality. Precisely the kind of food your great-great-grandmother would have recognized as food.
5. Pay more, eat less. The American food system has for a century devoted its energies and policies to increasing quantity and reducing price, not to improving quality. There’s no escaping the fact that better food — measured by taste or nutritional quality (which often correspond) — costsmore, because it has been grown or raised less intensively and with more care. Not everyone can afford to eat well in America, which is shameful, but most of us can: Americans spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their income on food, down from 24 percent in 1947, and less than the citizens of any other nation. And those of us who can afford to eat well should. Paying more for food well grown in good soils — whether certified organic or not — will contribute not only to your health (by reducing exposure to pesticides) but also to the health of others who might not themselves be able to afford that sort of food: the people who grow it and the people who live downstream, and downwind, of the farms where it is grown.
”Eat less” is the most unwelcome advice of all, but in fact the scientific case for eating a lot less than we currently do is compelling. ”Calorie restriction” has repeatedly been shown to slow aging in animals, and many researchers (including Walter Willett, the Harvard epidemiologist) believe it offers the single strongest link between diet and cancer prevention. Food abundance is a problem, but culture has helped here, too, by promoting the idea of moderation. Once one of the longest-lived people on earth, the Okinawans practiced a principle they called ”Hara Hachi Bu”: eat until you are 80 percent full. To make the ”eat less” message a bit more palatable, consider that quality may have a bearing on quantity: I don’t know about you, but the better the quality of the food I eat, the less of it I need to feel satisfied. All tomatoes are not created equal.
6. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Scientists may disagree on what’s so good about plants — the antioxidants? Fiber? Omega-3s? — but they do agree that they’re probably really good for you and certainly can’t hurt. Also, by eating a plant-based diet, you’ll be consuming far fewer calories, since plant foods (except seeds) are typically less ”energy dense” than the other things you might eat. Vegetarians are healthier than carnivores, but near vegetarians (”flexitarians”) are as healthy as vegetarians. Thomas Jefferson was on to something when he advised treating meat more as a flavoring than a food.
7. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. Confounding factors aside, people who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t a healthy diet, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around. True, food cultures are embedded in societies and economies and ecologies, and some of them travel better than others: Inuit not so well as Italian. In borrowing from a food culture, pay attention to how a culture eats, as well as to what it eats. In the case of the French paradox, it may not be the dietary nutrients that keep the French healthy (lots of saturated fat and alcohol?!) so much as the dietary habits: small portions, no seconds or snacking, communal meals — and the serious pleasure taken in eating. (Worrying about diet can’t possibly be good for you.) Let culture be your guide, not science.
8. Cook. And if you can, plant a garden. To take part in the intricate and endlessly interesting processes of providing for our sustenance is the surest way to escape the culture of fast food and the values implicit in it: that food should be cheap and easy; that food is fuel and not communion. The culture of the kitchen, as embodied in those enduring traditions we call cuisines, contains more wisdom about diet and health than you are apt to find in any nutrition journal or journalism. Plus, the food you grow yourself contributes to your health long before you sit down to eat it. So you might want to think about putting down this article now and picking up a spatula or hoe.
9. Eat like an omnivore. Try to add new species, not just new foods, to your diet. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases. That of course is an argument from nutritionism, but there is a better one, one that takes a broader view of ”health.” Biodiversity in the diet means less monoculture in the fields. What does that have to do with your health? Everything. The vast monocultures that now feed us require tremendous amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep from collapsing. Diversifying those fields will mean fewer chemicals, healthier soils, healthier plants and animals and, in turn, healthier people. It’s all connected, which is another way of saying that your health isn’t bordered by your body and that what’s good for the soil is probably good for you, too.
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Average

I saw this commercial while watching TV last night, and I loved its message (minus the GNC part, though if this gets you to buy some GNC supplements, then go ahead):



Part of my new year's resolution this year was to get out of being "average." I want more to my life than work and friends and exercise and fun, I want it to mean more than just the day to day routine. I wanted to devote more of my time to helping out organizations that I am passionate about and to give back to my community. Since I have been in the working world for almost 4 years, I know what my schedule is like and how much time I can realistically volunteer, and the truth is, I think everyone has time to give back. It just needs to be a priority. Yes, you want to spend time with your friends and family; yes, you want to work out; yes, you want to be able to catch your favorite shows, but that still leaves time to give back.

The hardest part for me was finding an organization that I was really passionate about. I didn't want to volunteer just to, I wanted to do it because I truly cared about the cause. So far this year, I have been involved in two causes, RVA Earth Day, which benefits FeedMore, and the VCU Massey Challenge, which was a specific part of fundraising through the Monument 10k for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. While I enjoyed recruiting volunteers and helping out during the festival for Earth Day, the Massey Alliance is the committee that I want to continue to devote my time to. I like that it is a local organization but stands for a cause everyone can relate to- the fight against cancer. There are events throughout the year that Massey sponsors and needs volunteers for, so I will be doing that as the events come to fruition. I also volunteered at the Food Bank through the UVA Club of Richmond and am continuously looking for other opportunities through that group and through my school-based community (I helped out at an event this Saturday hosted at my old school for the Children's Hospital). It has been fun meeting new people through volunteering and learning more about the causes!

So this is what I am doing to become a little more than just the average joe going about my daily life. I think it is always good to give back and do more for yourself and your community if you are able.

What do you do to be more than "average?"