Monday, March 25, 2013


If you had asked me on Friday afternoon what my plans were for the evening, I would have grumbled that I have every intention of staying at home to catch up on some TiVo and then go to bed early.  It had been a long week with moments of tension at work and I was entirely worn out.  When I arrived home, take-out in hand, I was greeted by one of my housemates chirping about how he had an open day on Saturday (a rare treat for him) and he intended to enjoy a carefree evening.  At the time, I gave a brief smile and nod -- not fully aware of the events that were about to unfold.

Within the hour, my other house mate arrived home and the two boys quickly agreed that take-out from the local Mexican dive would be a great idea as would some White Russians in honor of an impromptu viewing party of The Big Lebowsky.  One took on the task of bartending and setting up the movie while the other came home with an entire pie tin full of guacamole, confident that this might be light for the level of supposed starvation that the boys were experiencing at the time.  To further add to antics of the evening, the couple of friends that soon arrived were apparently all musically inclined and readily picked up guitars stationed by the dining table and my housemate sat down at his keyboard to play, what was later deemed, an impromptu rock opera.

I couldn't help but smile and laugh at the joy in the room -- it was palpable.  Laughter and music and the smell of carne asada had enveloped the room.  I laughed throughout the night and felt my stress and gloom melt away from me.  I slept that night for nearly 9 hours and woke up feeling the most refreshed I had been in weeks.

As we continue our series on health and well being, I want to trend from the more expected topics of healthy eating habits and exercise (both still important) to something that we might not place on our 'To Do' list on a regular basis but can have incredibly powerful physical and psychological affects on our body:  laughter.
Scientific research has shown that the physical act of a 'Ha Ha Ha' releases endorphins -- the same chemical released when exercising -- which has the ability to enhance our moods.  A New York Times article from September of 2011 even goes so far as to discuss a study performed by a psychologist at Oxford University that proves, through a series of field studies, that humans can increase their pain tolerance and resiliency if they have experienced laughter and joy just before the onset of the pain or injury.

Based on the level of endorphins that perhaps helped me ease into that sound sleep on Friday night, I would immediately agree with this Oxford doc!  So now, as I continue to focus on having a healthier lifestyle leading into the summer season, when we want to look and feel our best, I must encourage the simple act of laughing more often.  It's a productive and healthy habit!  And who knows, perhaps if you achieve that deep belly laugh then you will get yourself a little ab workout as a bonus!

Monday, March 18, 2013


A friend sent me a text about a week ago asking when I might be available to meet up for a quick coffee or glass of wine.  It had been nearly 4 months since we had last seen each other and there was certainly much to catch up on as the new year is well underway.  I responded "How about 3 Thursdays from now?"  I wasn't trying to be funny, it was literally the next free evening that I had on my calendar for such a social engagement.  Not surprisingly, the response came through as "THAT is the next time you are free for an hour or two?!  You are over-scheduled!"

A few days later I was trying to coordinate some things for the weekend.  I needed to be at a dinner around 7:15 on Friday night and the person I am currently dating had hoped to spend some time together before my 'girls dinner' -- aka No Boys Allowed.  I managed to weave through traffic with about 40 minutes of 'hang time' to spare before my dinner.  That was the equivalent of a half of a glass of wine.  "What about tomorrow?  When will I see you?"  Well, I am rising early to meet a friend around 9 AM for an event that lasts until 4, so hopefully I can spend join you for dinner before heading an hour South at 9 AM tomorrow."  Again, "Woman, you are over-scheduled!"

I made my way back up to West LA in time to drive this person to the airport, but I arrived with dark circles under my eyes and an energy level to be optimistically classified at a 3.  It only took one last look of disappointment, masking frustration, for me to surrender and say "You're right.  I am over-scheduled.  While you are away, I plan to learn how to use the word NO."

For the regular readers, you may roll your eyes and think that you've heard this story before over the years of my writing.  But, like many things in our lives, it is easy to have goals and ambitions but then see choices allow healthy habits to fade into unhealthy ones.  Mind you, saying No to things is different than telling everyone that you are 'Too Busy'.  The main difference?  Establishing priorities and then making decisions to stand by them.

Last week I initiated a challenge for all of us to be proactive in choosing a more healthy lifestyle so that we might feel stronger from the inside out.  I focused on healthy eating, less sugar, and increased water consumption so that we can feel good about the nutrition that we are using to feed our body and souls.  This week, I have learned a hard lesson.  That all of this will be nearly irrelevant if we don't maintain a healthy balance in our schedules to allow for physical and mental rest. 

I have been making better nutritional choices, yet there are dark circles under my eyes and I find myself less excited about life and the relationships that I desire to pursue because too much focus is on the fact that my right eye has an occasional twitch that might give the wrong impression to the person sitting across from me.

As women, we are wired to be relational.  We are also wired to be nurturing, attentive, and often selfless.  At least for me, it is not a natural tendency to say 'No' for fear of disappointing someone or even simply because I want to embrace it all.  But we have to slow it down. 

This week's healthy habit:  sleep more and prioritize.  Not even Wonder Woman could be in 3 places at one what on Earth makes me think that I am capable of such magic?  I know this is a true challenge for so many of us, but creating boundaries is important and with that we will see healthier habits that build strength within us. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


Shape Up.

It is a true treat to live in Southern California and experience daylight savings.  Last night the sun was shining some gorgeous 70-something degree weather all day and the evening snuck up on us as sundown didn't occur until nearly 7 PM.  It was one of those days where you want to pinch yourself and say, "Life is good right now".

Much of the day was spent sitting on a patio in a quirky beach town nursing sangria and tacos alongside many other SoCal lo-cals and I couldn't help but take note of the fit, tanned, and well dressed women.  Midway through my meal I started to realize that I was gawking -- and it was embarrassing.  I commented aloud to my lunch date that the scene was a bit intimidating to a girl.  Here I was, hiding my leftover Saturday night curls under my Dodger cap while sipping some sangria and staring through my sunglasses at the size zero women in the bar wearing their cut off jean shorts.  Needless to say, my self esteem was quickly plummeting as I felt like Anne Hathaway in the beginning part of The Devil Wears Prada when she is nicknamed "Six".

My lunch date was patient and kind in his response and I let it go immediately because I certainly didn't want to be 'that girl' on a date.  But the thoughts lingered with me throughout the rest of the day.  Daylight savings means longer days and hot summer other words, bathing suit season.   I can whine and complain all I want about the skinny girls, but the reality is that I have to own my health and my habits. 

No one is shoving cookies in front of me or forcing me to enjoy that extra glass of wine.  These are  my choices and I can choose to make healthy, or unhealthy, lifestyle choices.  Starting today I am going to focus on making healthy lifestyle choices and I will encourage you to join me.  Mayor Bloomberg is preparing to enforce new laws about sugary drinks in New York City and I think it is a fantastic example to make statements that will encourage the people in our country to choose to live a healthier lifestyle.

I don't imagine being nicknamed "Zero" by the time summer is truly here.  However, I can make some small adjustments and a stronger commitment to fitness that will allow me to hold my head high in a Dodger hat on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  We all can and what better time to start preparing for bathing suit season than right now. 

Let's spend the next 60 days together checking in and creating healthy habits.  Sit down and commit to 3 new habits for the week ahead.  I'll even let you borrow one of mine:  drink more water, eliminate cookies (including the ones sold by cute little girls in green uniforms), and exercise for more than 30 minutes at least 3 times per week. 

Ready.  Set.  Go.