The Year of You

learning to live without limits

Summer Lovin’ — May 29, 2017

Summer Lovin’

On this Memorial Day, make sure to take time to reflect on why we get to enjoy this long weekend….and take a moment to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

I couldn’t be more excited for the unofficial start of summer. The pool, the beach, more daylight hours…I love it all. But with summer comes the end of the school year, and this week Chase finished Kindergarten. This school year absolutely flew by, but it has been amazing to see the progress that he has made in his first year of school. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience for him.  No longer the little kindergartener, this guy is a first grader in training.

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First and Last Day of Kindergarten

Our normal Memorial Weekend plans are pretty much the same every year. We usually head to the lake with my in-laws and spend the rest of the weekend by the pool. These plans fell through this year, but the weekend was still filled with family, food, baseball and playing outside. I love long weekends and the extra downtime I get with my guys.

Last week I mentioned that I would reflect on my first week of practicing meditation, more specifically transcendental meditation (or TM).   This week, I contemplated scrapping the idea completely. One week just isn’t long enough to make an assessment.  I have been focusing  on personal growth, and meditation seemed to tick a lot of the boxes for areas I was looking to improve.  I officially started last weekend, and I’ve been working on it all week. Like I said, it’s too early to give meaningful feedback, but I will say the biggest challenge has been finding the time. Each session requires 20 minutes, and finding 20 minutes during the day to sit still is pretty difficult. I thrive on go go go. When I am sitting still I feel guilty that I should be doing something. This may be the exact reason why I need to continue looking into meditation.

To wrap things up, here are the things that I am obsessing over this week.

Cupshe: I recently placed my first order with Cupshe. Cupshe has smartly placed ads within my Facebook and Instagram feeds so it was only a matter of time before I caved, and  I did. The suits were too damn cute, and anyone who knows me knows that I am an online shopper; I just like the convenience. No one loves buying swimming suits, but it’s worse when they are super expensive. These suits are inexpensive and cute. It takes a bit longer than normal to get them and realized why when I tracked the shipment, they were coming from China.  I ordered 4 suits, I know I know. I’m glad I did though. The bikinis I ordered were fine but not worth keeping. The one pieces that I ordered were perfection. I never wear one pieces and went out on a limb with this order and I love both of them. img_3216

Citrus Mint Infused Green Tea: A co-worker gave me a mint plant, and I have been working on ways to creatively use the mint leaves. This week I experimented with an infused green tea and quickly fell in love. I started with a pitcher of water and green tea bags and brewed it sun tea style. Once brewed, I sliced my citrus (grapefruit and lemon) and added the mint leaves. I put it in the refrigerator and let it chill. It feels fancy and it tastes amazing. Cant lose.

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Halo Top Ice Cream: Nothing pairs with summer quite like ice cream, and it is the one indulgence that I just can’t give up (aside from cereal).  Halo Top is different…typically under 360 calories per pint (some at 240 calories per pint) plus a decent amount of protein. I will warn you, not all flavors are good. For example, Lemon cake is disgusting and chalky, and ended up in the trash. Save yourself the time (and wasted money) don’t buy Lemon Cake. Our favorite flavors include Mint Chip, Cookie Dough and Salted Carmel. It’s not regular full calorie ice cream so don’t go expecting the same experience. It is good and it does the job for an occasional ice cream craving without the guilt. My recommendation (as well as the recommendation on the packaging), let the pint sit on the counter for ten minutes to soften. It’s worth the short wait.

Next Time: We prepare for our family vacation and I talk about what I am doing to break my dreaded evening cereal habit.

What fills your tank? — May 22, 2017

What fills your tank?

I learned a lot about myself by participating in the Battlegrounds OCR Mud Run. I learned that I thrive on being challenged and being competitive. I live for that feeling of accomplishment achieved through struggle. I have been feeling a little purposeless the last month. I was still motivated, but I just felt like I was drifting along without focus. I didn’t have this problem last year. Month after month I was running in races and jumping out of planes. This year my goal was to find balance and sustainability. In doing this, I was depriving myself and I didn’t realize this until after the Battlegrounds. My “tank” had been refilled, and I felt energized and ready for whatever was next. I needed the challenge. Sure I can continue to push myself on my own, but it’s just not enough. I need something out of the ordinary to keep me going. It’s so important to find what motivates us. What gives us that feeling of fulfillment and purpose. What makes us hungry for more. I challenge you to think about what fills your tank. When do you feel the most fulfilled?

The face of accomplishment? I had no idea a photographer was at the finish line. Had I known,  I would have attempted a smile like the happy guy next to me.

 

Life Is Better When Battled — May 19, 2017

Life Is Better When Battled

To start this week, I’d like to first reflect on an awesome book that I finished reading a few weeks ago,  “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson. It came recommended by an awesome lady, and I am glad she thought of me when recommending.  This book changed the game for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who feels just a bit overwhelmed with whatever they have going on in their life. The concepts are basic, but written in an entertaining conversational writing style. If you don’t like an occasional cuss word, this book is not for you. I feel like the title is enough to tell you this, but just in case it’s not: close the book and walk away. For those who don’t mind references to “a bag of burritos” or “the disappointing panda”, press on.

This book will make you think about how you approach challenges in your life and what is truly within your control. It’s a self-help book that feels nothing like a self-help book. I’ll quote the book (and hopefully not do it incorrectly) “Happiness requires struggle. It grows from problems. Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through choosing and managing our struggles.” I’ll leave the rest up to you, but you should really check it out.

(Side note: You may start to notice that I mix in more and more items related to personal growth. If I am going to work the heck out of my body, why wouldn’t I do the same for my mind?)

In more personal news, my 6-year-old has not one, but TWO girlfriends and earlier this week my 3-year-old told me (and I quote) “to check myself, before I wreck myself”. So that’s life these days.

The kids spent this past weekend camping, and Jason and I participated in our first obstacle course race, the Battlegrounds. 5 miles, 30 obstacles, and mud. So much mud. Our wave was at 12:30pm and for some strange reason I really wasn’t nervous. My goals were different for this challenge, it was more about enjoying the experience, completing the obstacles and finishing the run. Each wave started with a call to battle led by a guy who I assume was a former (or maybe current) drill sergeant, but now does motivational speeches inspiring people to overcome all obstacles in life. He started the call by asking everyone to squat down to the ground and at the end explained that he asked us to squat low to remind us that we may be low to the ground (or at a low point in our lives from time to time), but we aren’t underground and that we can always rise up. This guy  is good at what he does.

With the recent rain, the mud was muddier than normal.  I know this sounds stupid mud being muddier than normal, but it apparently made the course harder.  Instead of running in two inches of mud at the easiest points it was four to five inches of mud. The five miles of running became a consistent battle with balance. The obstacles themselves were challenging, but no one was ever left behind. I had strangers throwing me over walls and I was boosting grown men. This was truly the most amazing part of the experience everyone helped everyone else. Sure, I got kicked in the head (really hard) by a guy that felt really bad about it, sure I haven’t regained the feeling in one of my fingertips after attempting to scale a chain link fence, and sure I burned a layer of skin off the inside of my knees. These were my “battle wounds” and I earned them every time I overcame an obstacle.  It helps that I  was determined to do my best and that I had the best partner right there with me, low-fiving me every time we completed an obstacle together. Would I do it again, heck yeah, but not until I re-grow some skin on my knees, elbows, stomach, wrists…should I go on??

To wrap things up, I’ve decided to start ending my posts with things that I am obsessing over lately, and I think it goes without saying that I love these things because I use them, not because anyone has ever even thought about paying me to say that I like them.

Overnight Oats: yeah, I am pretty late to the overnight oats game, but I love them. My recipe is below.

1/3 cups oats, cover with unsweetened almond milk (leave in fridge overnight, hence the name). In the morning I will add chia seeds, cinnamon, chopped almonds and a sliced banana.

Blue Apron: I listen to a ton of podcasts during my daily commute so I knew it was only a matter of time before I caved to the Blue Apron marketing team. Jason and I knew we would have the weekend to ourselves, and instead of going out to dinner (which we often do and ultimately feel guilty when we get the bill) we decided to stay in and cook dinner together. For those unfamiliar with Blue Apron, it’s essentially a subscription service for meal kits. You get all the ingredients to make awesome meals sent directly to your front door. I am not sure we will do this every week, but definitely when we want to do something different and not pay restaurant prices.

Brain Quest Workbooks. Now that my oldest is finishing Kindergarten, I don’t want to get out of the learning routine this summer so I purchased the “Summer Brain Quest: Between Kindergarten and First grade” workbook. These workbooks are seriously awesome. Grade appropriate and engaging because who really wants to do school work during the summer.

Next Time: Summer unofficially begins! And I reflect on my first week of practicing mediation.

Food and Stuff —

Food and Stuff

I swore I would never do this, but here I am. In the last two weeks I have had several people ask me to share “what I eat in a day”. I am always open to sharing if anyone can find a benefit through my experiences, but I post this with caution and a few disclaimers. You know I like my disclaimers. What you are about to read is boring (and long) and I’ve spent 18 months of trial and error crafting this and making small refinements, but this currently works for me. I will say it again, it works for me.   When it stops working for me or my lifestyle changes, I will make further refinements.  It’s a process and there is no one perfect approach to food that will work for everyone at every point in their life.

So, if you keep reading and think “no way, Jose!”,  remember that I didn’t start with this and neither should you. What I recommended to one friend was to start with small changes over the course of a few months. Once you are comfortable with those changes, make other changes. This is what I did starting back in January 2016. It’s a process. Only embark on a change that you can sustain.

Here goes nothing. This is my standard Monday through Friday.

 5:15am: My morning starts with hot lemon water with a ¼ teas of turmeric. I drink this every single morning before I eat anything. Heat water like you would tea, squeeze in a lemon wedge and sprinkle in the turmeric. Watch out! Turmeric water will stain the shit out of anything you spill it on.

After I finish my hot lemon water w/turmeric, I eat first breakfast. First breakfast includes ½ cup almond milk, large banana, and a wedge of egg pie (approximately 2 and 1/5 eggs per wedge of egg pie).  I have shared my egg pie recipe with so many people. When I say egg pie, I get the funniest looks, but it seems to be the easiest way to describe it.  I started out making those baked eggs in a muffin pan things you see on pinterest. This was a complete nightmare to clean each week, so I moved from a muffin pan to a pie pan and it changed the game. Clean-up was so much easier! On Sundays, we meal prep and a part of that meal prep is making “egg pie”. I whisk 12 eggs, spray a pie pan with nonstick spray and bake for 30 minutes at 350. It is so basic, and I know I could do egg whites and it would be better for me. I don’t add anything to the egg mixture, but you could add green peppers or other veggies if you please.

7:30am: 2 cups of black coffee

8:00am-10:00am: If I start to get hungry I will drink green tea.

10:00am: whole Grapefruit. I love a good grapefruit

11:00am: One heaping scope of GNC lean burn protein powder w/water and ice (chocolate flavor). I typically workout over lunch and this protein powder has the perfect amount of caffeine to keep me focused and slightly agitated and angsty so I drink it before I work out instead of after. Yes, I know this is backwards, but it works for me.  I also eat a whole grain English muffin with almond butter about an hour before I workout.

11:30-1:30 : Workout Time (time depends on the day of the week and what I have going on with work).

My workouts vary day-to-day, but my minimum daily goals remain as follows: burn 400 exercise calories, 60 active minutes,  13,000 steps, 40 flights of stairs.  These are my minimum goals.

1:30pm: Because we meal prep, we eat the same lunch every day during the week. This week, we had southwest turkey burgers w/roasted veggies. Turkey burgers include ground turkey, diced seeded jalapenos, chopped green onions and taco seasoning (I use premade because I am lazy). Mix with hands, pattie-up, and grill. I serve with salsa. For the roasted veggies, I typically do a variation of broccoli, carrot chips, cauliflower or brussel sprouts…all things I shouldn’t eat based on my low FODMAP diet, but I love brussel sprouts.  Other week’s lunches have included roasted veggies with shredded chicken and quinoa or sometimes we do ground turkey lettuce wraps. Some weeks we do salads or chicken salad with greek yogurt. We try to mix it up to keep it interesting.

2:30 or 3: Handful of nuts (mostly plain almonds)

3:30 or 4:  Apple

6:00pm: Dinner varies most nights but includes a lean protein, veggie and a healthy carb. Last night we had turkey meatballs with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and I made French bread for the boys because I am not a monster. I try to get my kids to eat healthy foods, but we definitely don’t go crazy.  Overall, I am not as strict with dinner as I am the rest of the day. Dinner is about regrouping as a family, and if I have to make real noodles to avoid arguing about zucchini for 45 minutes, I’ll do it.

6:30pm: Family walk-1 mi

8:00pm: Jason and I will walk or run a few miles several nights per week in addition to our daily training. It’s a good time to catch-up.

8:30pm: I am being completely upfront with this otherwise I would have left this part out. I am a late evening snacker, and I hate it.  I typically go for cereal with unsweetened almond milk (like honey nut chex or special K with red berries) or air popped popcorn by the gallon. I am trying really hard to cut this snack out.

As far as hydration, I drink water all day. I gave up carbonation this year so no flavored water, no sparkling water and definitely no soda (unless it’s in a mixed drink. Exceptions can be made for small amounts of alcohol).

So that’s it. Super exciting stuff I know, but I could talk about food all day.  I really enjoy finding out what people eat, especially those that I admire from a health and wellness perspective. Yes, I realize this is strange, but I could honestly write pages about food, so if you are interested in more just let me know. I am always happy to share.

Coming Soon:  You ever hear something for the first time and then hear it five more times randomly that same day? This happened to me with Transcendental Meditation (TM). I have been researching this style of mediation the last few weeks now, and the overwhelming list of benefits.  There are a ton of athletes and well-known individuals in all industries that practice this type of mediation to help with focus and mental clarity. This week, I start practicing.