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
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, and I'm really impressed by the quality of the products and the company's values.
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."
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.
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.
I think it's difficult for anyone to describe their typical day, and I certainly wouldn't presume to bore you with my hour-to-hour schedule. But I often get asked what I do when it comes to the areas I find myself discussing the most in my coaching work: food, movement, spirit and sleep. So I thought I'd share what I "typically" do here.
I'm sure everyone knows by now that hands down, the best habit I've changed is my morning routine. I used to wake up with my mind racing, make coffee with the phone already in my hand and start worrying about everything I'd seen in my texts and emails, all while trying to make the first of multiple breakfasts and three lunches at 5:45 in the morning. (My kids are 10, 13 and 16, and they go to three different schools at three different times!) I wasn't doing anyone any favors ~ by the time everyone had woken up, I was anxious and overwhelmed.
As I've read about the importance of an intentional start to the day, I've revised mine and now it makes all the difference in the world.
When the alarm goes off and I sit up, the first thing I do is say "thank you." I get up, ignore the phone, start the coffee maker, pour a huge glass of water, squeeze a lemon into it and drink it down. Then I pour my coffee (I put ghee and MCT oil in mine) and head to the couch for meditation. Sometimes I'll use a guided meditation. Other times, I'll hear my middle schooler start the shower and I know I only have a few minutes, so I'll just spend a minute or two bringing my attention to my breath.
Breakfast for me is usually a big handful of berries, a couple tablespoons of flax seed meal and chia or hemp seeds, raw nuts, a dash of ground cinnamon, a sprinkling of granola and unsweetened soy or almond milk. I'll also take a whole bunch of supplements with breakfast. And I often have a cup of green tea mid-morning.
I'm pretty active anyway, but before I settle down to work, especially if I'm going to be sitting in front of the computer or meeting with clients, I'll try to dedicate some time to exercise. Some days I'll ride (my bike or a horse) or go for a brisk walk. I don't like going to the gym, so if I can't get outside, I'll do yoga, weights or high intensity interval training with an app on my iPad. If it's a nice evening or the weekend, I'll go on a long bike ride with my husband.
If I have time, I'll do transcendental meditation or kundalini yoga, as well as some Bible study or spiritual reading.
Lunch is hard for me. I never want to stop what I'm doing, and I don't really like typical lunch foods. So I'll usually have avocado toast with an egg, or salad and a veggie frittata. If I'm really feeling uninspired to put together a proper lunch (or I'm pressed for time), I'll just make a quick smoothie. A typical smoothie will have berries, greens, avocado, cucumber, frozen bananas, flax chia blend, coconut oil, nut butter and soy milk, with some cinnamon and vanilla extract thrown in.
Dinner can also be a challenge, because my weekday afternoons and evenings are so busy with the kids' activities. I'll have whatever vegetables everyone's having with their dinner, but I don't eat meat, so I'll add a huge salad or chickpea pasta with tomato sauce. If we're out, I'll share my daughter's veggie burrito and order a salad, or I'll get pizza with tons and tons of vegetables (Mod Pizza is a favorite of ours). But my husband is a great cook, so when we can all eat together, we'll usually have fish or a plant-based dish (we love daal, lentils and spinach, kale pesto with black bean spaghetti, vegetarian chili) and lots of veggies, and I always add a big serving of mixed greens with some flavored balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I do like wine, so I will have a glass or two on the weekends. Right after dinner I take bone supplements with calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K.
My kids get a little energy surge after dinner, so sometimes we head out for a walk around the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights (or in the summer, we'll walk down to the park for a little while before the sun goes down). Otherwise, we'll clean up and I'll hit the couch with my husband. Sometimes I'll have a cup of herbal tea ~ my favorite this time of year is a harvest blend with orange peel, ginger and cinnamon. I'll also have a book with me, but I'll inevitably get sucked into something he's watching. Ken Burns' documentary on country music was my most recent favorite (other than the World Series, of course!).
My pre-bed/sleep routine is one area where I'm pretty disciplined because I have to get up so early in the morning. I'm often asleep before the kids! I turn off my phone and leave it in the kitchen. Since a lot of my books and my alarm are on my iPad, I put it on airplane mode so I'm not tempted to check email or social media. All my devices are programmed to switch to warm light at sunset so they're easier on my eyes (and brain). I'm usually in bed by 9:30 with my book and I'm asleep within 15 minutes.