My house has a lot of my grandmother’s furniture, including our kitchen table. Yesterday I made a grocery run, which has this way of completely draining me. Grocery shopping was never my favorite, but now with the masks and the one-way aisles, and the line outside and all the extra effort it takes, it just wears me out. But I decided to pick up a festive tablecloth and a few things to put around the house to remind us that summer is coming. And when I put the tablecloth on the table, memories came rushing back to me of my grandmother’s kitchen table in the summertime, out in the country where they lived. Memories of just lying in the grass by the pond behind her house, walking through the woods, visiting the cows, eating hamburgers at the table with the checked tablecloth and the little mustard & ketchup set. And I got a little bit sad. Nostalgia can do that. And it’s easy to feel sad, because this Memorial Day weekend doesn’t feel like the ones in the past. It’s not sunny, in fact it’s cool and rainy here in Northern Virginia. There’s no Viva Vienna, with its carnival rides and food trucks and live music. The pool isn’t open, my son isn’t starting his lifeguard job. But then I remember that none of those things were happening at my grandmother’s house on those glorious summer days. I ran around barefoot, and played in the creek and lay on the grass staring at the sky. I drank from the hose and we made lemonade and peach ice cream. And I can do all those things with MY kids. Maybe I'll even bake my famous Cole's Moveable Feast sweet tea cupcakes with lemonade frosting. We’ll walk in the woods, and splash in the creek instead of the pool. I’ll make my grandmother’s peach ice cream and we’ll do some laying around and staring at the sky. And it will be awesome.
Let’s talk about FREEDOM today. Sometimes my daughter puts on an outfit that makes me ... pause for second. I bite back advice about things that “go together” or about not tucking shirts into elastic waist pants. And then I remember. Remember when you were a kid? And what you put on your body was based solely on what colors you liked? Or how comfortable it felt? Or how easily you could play outside or jump in the creek? I remember, too. Do you know how many decades I spent picking out my outfit based on how tall, skinny and “in style” I’d look? Does anyone here relate to the closet crisis? Did you know there was a time I wouldn’t dream of wearing flats (or my glasses)? I nearly ruined my feet running around New York City for twelve years in high heels. How liberating it was when I started thinking like a kid again! Sometimes I even tuck my shirt into elastic waist pants! Now, I admit some of this freedom comes from reaching an age where I make decisions based on MY preferences, rather than others’ perceptions. And the struggles that come with being a human have a way of putting things into perspective. There came a time in my life when I realized I LOVE every part of me that I used to consider imperfect, because now it is healthy. But play with freedom in your mind’s eye for a minute, if you’re not already there. Think about how wonderful it would be to feel free. Because others’ opinions of you are none of your business. And you deserve to be happy and feel good. And when you do, every little choice you make will fall in line with that. You’ll nourish your happy, loved self with foods that energize and heal you. You’ll move that wonderful body like a kid again. And your spirit will thank you. And you're right, that’s not my daughter in the first picture. XOXO
Join us! We're running (and walking) the Vienna Business Association Caffe Amouri Feeding Families 5K ~ May 15th to May 31st. You guys, I can't say enough about how excited I was to hear about this event - I'm even donating a prize! Like many of you, I have spent many hours at Caffe Amouri working on my laptop. I've also walked many miles (with many of you during Wellness Feast walking club) on the W&OD trail, and my love of the Town of Vienna runs deep. How much I'll miss Viva Vienna this year! And you know one of my core beliefs is that we must serve our communities and help the undernourished. This is especially true now, in the face of this global pandemic. I hope you will join us for this wonderful event. I'll see you out there training (from a distance)! Register here!
There can be a dark side to all the Zoom happy hours and days that feel like Groundhog Day. I posted about it on social media, and then I started receiving lots of comments on my personal Facebook page, plus private texts and messages about how universal that slippery slope can be. So I thought it was worth re-posting here. And by the way, the recipe for the virgin margarita can be found here, and the spritzer was just half Belvoir cucumber mint lemonade and half seltzer, with a few slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint. Enjoy, and read on . . .
Can we talk alcohol for a minute? And bear in mind, this is coming from the wife of a man who works in the industry. But during the COVID-19 crisis, I have found myself pouring a glass of wine almost every night. Sometimes two glasses. And that is WAY more than I would like to be drinking, not to mention the fact that excess alcohol consumption has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer and several other health conditions. And for me, a lot of the pleasure in a glass of wine is really about the ceremony, not so much the wine itself. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s a perfect glass of wine for certain meals. Sometimes, on a hot summer day, a cold glass of white wine or rosé just can’t be beat. And it’s Cinco de Mayo on Taco Tuesday during the coronavirus, for God’s sake. That just screams margarita! But today, I decided to introduce some new non-alcoholic options into my repertoire, so that I can still make a special drink after a long day of homeschooling and working from home. I even ordered some Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits to try out. So, let me know if you’re with me on this, and if so, share your favorite mocktails. And listen ... I’m not going to pretend I’m becoming a teetotaler, but I do want to be more intentional about how often I’m taking a drink. Are you with me?
I'm a lipstick girl. I grew up with grandmothers who'd NEVER be caught outside of the house "without a mouth." My paternal grandmother wouldn't even be caught inside the house without hers, and she had tubes of lipstick stashed all over her little house in Norfolk, Virginia. My father told me that after she passed away, they found lipsticks hidden all around her room and in her bed. I miss those women so much. My mother is also a lipstick girl. She has a big, gorgeous smile and even though her coloring is wildly different from mine, we discovered some years ago that we both loved a shade called Wine With Everything.
Well, there hasn't been much use for lipstick in quarantine. And whenever I put it on, I feel sort of garish, and the kids ask me where I'm going. But that doesn't mean I've let up on my other self-care routines. And of course, in this particular discussion of self-care, I'm not talking meditation and exercise and all the things that I really hammer y'all about. I'm talking, looking good at FIFTY self-care!
So here are a few of my non-negotiables.
1. Washing my face EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, no matter how tired I am. I use the plainest soap I can find. Good ol' bar soap works best for me, because I had oily skin until a few years ago, and I'm still prone to break-outs. Ah, menopause ... wrinkles and pimples! Yay! Sometimes I exfoliate with a gentle scrub. But I always follow with a mixture of retinol and vitamin C serum, all over my face and neck. It has made a huge difference, I wish I had started in my 30s. I have a lot of sun damage to my face. Again, retrospect. Kurt Vonnegut was right, kids, when he (actually never) said wear sunscreen.
2. Religiously flossing. Teeth, breath and heart health, guys ~ the inflammation in your mouth can contribute to heart disease. I'm not even kidding. So as gross as it sounds, I use a tongue scraper, and natural dental floss so I don't end up with PFOAs in my system (again, wishing I had figured that out before spending decades using Teflon pans). And I gargle with good old-fashioned eye-watering antiseptic mouthwash, because my dentist recommended it for preventing those yucky bacteria that can lodge in your tonsils. If your breath is routinely bad (or your mouth tastes yucky), think about (a) drinking more water and (b) cleaning your tongue and flossing.
3. Epsom salt baths. I love them ~ for sore muscles and because magnesium, both ingested and as a soak, has so many health benefits.
4. Tinted moisturizer and sunscreen every day. My other make-up choices are pretty optional. I'm addicted to the Nars Multiple stick, so I'll never give that up, but otherwise I look for makeup that's pretty clean by the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep app standards. I recently discovered Beautycounter, which was started by a friend of a friend. I have been so blown away by the quality of the products and the company's values, I am now buying everything through them, and I've signed up to be an independent consultant. That's pretty out of character for me, but I finally feel good about what I'm putting on my body and my face, the sunscreens my family is using, and the hair care products and soaps in my kids' bathrooms. If you're interested in learning more about this, e-mail me, or shop here.
5. I upped my glasses game recently, because I'm in front of this computer so often with work, Zoom meetings and client sessions. I wear Caddis readers, again recommeneded by a friend, because they look so cool and filter out the blue light, so I have less eye fatigue. Although, with my little Chinese face and pointy chin, I look a little bit like that nerdy bird that follows Foghorn Leghorn around. Oh well.
6. Finally, Native deodorant, y'all! A gift from a friend and I LOVE it. Don't be putting nasty chemicals and toxins on your armpits, ladies, they're right next to your breasts!
So those are my go-to routines and products, and my point here is, keep doing these little things that make you feel good every day. Even if the only people who see you are the ones whining, "Mom, there's nothing in the house to eat."
I have deliberately avoided writing about the COVID-19 crisis. We are all at home, hoping and praying that the precautions we are taking now will slow the spread of the virus. Our inboxes are full of devastating news, helpful hints and encouragement in the face of social distancing, economic uncertainty and quarantine. I will not presume to provide the same. Instead, I will say, do not wait another second to pursue the life you want. In all its authenticity, messiness and beauty. Every moment is only NOW. Do not wait until you've earned more money, found a partner, left a relationship, finished treatment, lost weight, changed jobs. Do it TODAY, not "when . . ." One of my core beliefs is: A BEAUTIFUL LIFE IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT. Claim it. RIGHT NOW.
This is how much I love you guys. I'm giving you a gallery of Ugly Exercising Face and my extremely dorky happy dance when weight training is over. My children would call it cringey and they'd be right. But I'm hoping it will help me make my point.
Let's back up a minute. This is the month that I'm really pushing a lot of clients and members to step up their exercise game. And I'm right there with you. I've been told by doctors that I need to do more weight-bearing exercise to increase my bone density. Then in October I attended an event where I got to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer. Y'all. She's pretty much the Coolest Woman To Walk The Earth, and by the way, she's a FOUR-time cancer survivor. She hired Bryant Johnson when she realized it was time to get stronger.
So I'm at this event, and remember, I'm a health coach, so I should know better, but I still asked: What should I do, because I HATE WEIGHT TRAINING and I hate the gym. And he told me like it is. He asked if I cared about my health. He pointed out all the things I do to take care of myself. And finally he asked, "Then why aren't you doing this?" (And then he gave me a big kiss and some free workout equipment! SWOON! But that's a story for another day.)
Since then I've downloaded a great app on my iPad to make it easier to get in some weight-bearing exercise. But I'm inconsistent with it. So this week, I made a commitment to practice what I preach. I put three weight-bearing workouts on my calendar every week. I'm keeping that promise to myself, and I'm making it work for me. Notice I'm working out in my bedroom. Nothing fancy. Me, some weights, some resistance bands, my app and, oh yeah, my autographed copy of The RBG Workout. Because he's right, if she can do, so can I.
New habits are uncomfortable, you guys. They just are. Keep going. Make a commitment to yourself. Make a promise to yourself. And just keep doing it. Do you know how long it took me to make that morning lemon water a habit? Months. Some mornings, it seemed insurmountable. Impossible. I was tired, and everyone was up earlier than normal and asking me for stuff. But I did it anyway. And it got easier.
When that reminder came up on my phone today to go do my weight workout, I didn't want to stop what I was doing. But I did it anyway. Because I know it will get easier. DO IT ANYWAY. Keep going. I'm right there with you.
Here’s the deal: every Friday evening through the beginning of May, I have to drop a kid off at rehearsal on Mill Street in Vienna. I will then go for a walk on the W&OD trail. If you’d like to join me, meet me at the Vienna caboose at 5:15 on Fridays. You do not have to be a Member or client, and your fitness level doesn’t matter. You just show up, come as you are, even if you’re not in workout clothes. We will walk until someone’s ready to turn around, and then we will end our walk either at Caboose Brewing Co. or Whole Foods in Vienna for a coffee, tea or beverage ~ your choice. This is a place for moving, connecting and winding down the week, NOT competition, feelings of “I can’t” or judgment. If no one shows up, I’ll be walking anyway, but any or every Friday, feel free to join me! Text me at (917) 531-4409 if you’re coming that week so I know to watch for you. Let’s get moving! Release stress! Reduce cancer risk! Increase those telomeres! Connect! We might even see a gorgeous sunset or a bee that fell asleep in a flower with pollen on its butt! (I look at those pictures whenever I need a smile.) See you there!
Remember those awesome pumpkin doughnuts on Fox 5 Good Day DC? Okay, not exactly a superfood, but certainly a seasonal treat (which I believe in) and inclusive for people with food allergies (which I really believe in).
Believe it or not, the foods that pack the maximum nutrient punch can also be delicious ~ thanks to my husband. We recently had the privilege of sharing my love of anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods and his love of cooking ~ at a private event showcasing leafy greens and organic wines. (Oh, did I forget to mention he's in the wine industry?)
We have a million more tricks up our sleeves for helping you love what's good for you. If you're interested in setting up a private workshop and cooking demo (and even a wine tasting) for you friends, organization or workplace wellness initiative, contact me for more information and pricing.
As you know, one of my core beliefs is that we must serve our communities and help the undernourished. Many of you were part of our 5K team back in January that raised money for Food for Others. I've also had the privilege this year of serving as a coach for Girls On The Run of Northern Virginia, an organization dedicated to guiding and mentoring pre-adolescent and adolescent girls through an interactive curriculum centered on confidence, strength, connection, community and other important life skills . . . all while training for a 5K. This morning I had the privilege of kicking off GOTR NOVA's 20th anniversary on NBC 4 with some of my girls. I'm looking forward to another season with this incredible organization.