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Summer Slumpin’

Ahh Summer. Slower, unstructured days, kids home, relaxing times. All good.keep-calm-and-relax-it-s-summer

Or not. Give me some structure and give it to me now.

My life is all about my kids. Literally. Despite my busy lifestyle and multiple career paths, my #1 job is to keep them fed, healthy and safe. During the school year, my days are completely structured with a schedule of maintaining my marketing business, training clients and keeping  the household afloat with quiet, focused time abound.

I have calculated that since the summer began (and we all know it began well before school ended), I have had exactly 17 minutes and 43 seconds to myself (ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration). Not gonna lie, I have shed a few “I’m gonna lose my mind” tears. I am a mom that truly adores her children; yet I have found myself not being able to focus with a clear mind for more than 5 seconds (I refer to it as “mom ADD”) or have any “me” time. The struggle is real.

The luxury of healthy meal planning is out the window (mostly because the kids eat me out of house and home 12 hours a day) since we are at sport practices/games 6-7 nights of the week –  so dinner is typically at 4:30 or 8:00 pm and although in the category of healthy, it’s something quick and easily digestible. No time for mama to truly feed (or eat) a proper meal.  I find myself grabbing and picking all day – just to sustain enough energy to plow through.

Although I am (somehow) able to maintain regular workouts, I feel out of sorts and exhausted trying to add some normalcy to my days.

Sound familiar?

So, you ask…”What’s the solution?”

Let it go…Let it gooooo…Summer is the exact right time to loosen up your schedule. To enjoy the moment. To realize time is precious and the future is promising. Instead of fighting it, try to embrace it.

Some tips on how to make the most out of the unstructured-ness:

  1. Continue to fuel your body with as much healthy food as possible. Even if it’s grab-n-go try to choose unprocessed, organic and non-GMO. Tried to avoid eating out more than 2x’s per week.
  2. Keep physical. Kids home and can’t get to a class? Try the free 7-Minute Workout on iTunes or load the Nike Trainer app and get it done in your home. Aim for 3 really challenging workouts/week.
  3. Carve out YOU time….away from the kids. Away from noise. Designate your evenings to reading a book in a quiet space. Get up early to have an hour of quiet time with you and your coffee.
  4. Enjoy a cocktail (or two). Preferably during a night out with friends while wearing a swanky summer outfit. Try to keep it to something lighter like wine or spritzers. Not so much on the margaritas or Jack and coke.
  5. Hide from your kids. Just for a bit. In an office, in the basement, in your attic. Whatever works. Notice how they will find a game to play or a show to watch (I have them do 30 minutes in a summer workbook every day) and get some work done or cross off some to-dos. When we check things off our list, it makes us feel accomplished and less stressed.
  6. Drink a full pint of water first thing in the morning. It flushes out your system, hydrates you from the summer heat and gives you more energy for the day ahead.
  7. Sleep in. It’s ok. Everything will be waiting for you.
  8. Eat ice cream. Sundays are for Sundaes. That once a week indulgence is so worth it.
  9. Take a day trip. When we escape from the mundane, we become refreshed.
  10. Play music. It changes everything.
  11. Look forward. Planning things to look forward to in the future keeps us happy and optimistic.

And off I go to practice what I preach…

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Summer Reads

No matter how crazy my life gets, I always find time to read.  My Kindle is usually in my purse for whenever I have a few free minutes.  And, summer is the perfect opportunity to read more. Beach trips and vacations practically scream for something juicy.

As we always like to remind our readers, it is important to find that balance in your life. Books are a great way to escape from your day-to-day routine, fantasize, get inspired and maybe a little motivated to make changes in your own life. No need to feel guilty. Put your feet up and enjoy.

Below, is a list of some of my favorites- both old and new.  I am not a literary critic, just someone who loves a good story from all different genres. images-1

Light Summer Reads

Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian

When Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography, spending all her free time at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers a deeply hidden secret–a story that leads her far from her old life, and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her. A page turner.

Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty

A line from this book’s summary drew me right in.  A wife stumbles across a letter written by her husband, which begins “My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…”

What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

Yes, same author. She is great for quick-paced summer reading.  In this novel, Alice falls and forgets the past decade.  She is surprised to learn that she has three children and is getting a divorce.  The last thing she remembers is being pregnant with her first child and being madly in love with her husband.  Sounds like a cliché, but really makes you stop and think.

Before I Go To Sleep, by S.J. Watson

Watson’s main character, Christine, struggles with a big problem: Every time she goes to sleep, she forgets her name, her identity, her location, even her husband (due to a rare kind of amnesia).  Christine starts to keep a journal to remind herself of the basic details, and through it she learns her husband, Ben, is keeping facts from her. Is he trying to protect her from a dark past, or is he concealing something more sinister? A real thriller!

Great Stories  (A little deeper than your average summer beach read.)

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Differbaugh

A story of an 18-year old girl who grew up in foster care and now struggles to survive as an adult. The story weaves between past and present and forces her to confront a painful secret.

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

This story brings together two very unlikely people and breaks your heart.  Just read it – so good!

The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer

A promising student of architecture leaves his native country of Hungary to study in Paris in the late 1930s — until his scholarship is revoked when anti-Jewish laws go into effect.  He returns to Hungry as the war escalates.  The character’s happiest days, and later, their struggles, are rendered in a sweeping, epic fashion.  I have read many books on the Holocaust and  hesitated to read another as they can be so heart wrenching – but it was so worth it.

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

This unique story of a Nigerian girl and a British woman is not at all your typical novel.  The story challenges you to think about concepts of civility and ethical choices.  One of those books that keeps you thinking afterwards.

Memoirs

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

This moving memoir draws you in from the first pages.  Cheryl lost her mother and her marriage and with nothing else to lose, she embarks on a thousand mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail hoping to heal and find herself again. Strayed’s honesty and humor made this book a page-turner for me.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison

Ever since he was young, John Robison struggled to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A fascinating read – Robinson is a born story-teller.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingslover

Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves or learn to live without it.   Don’t be afraid of the title; Kingsolver is a gifted story teller.  It reads like a novel and is full of wit and humor.

On My List to Read This Summer  

Since I have not yet read these, I am not able to offer an opinion, but they are on my reading list for the summer.

I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum

In this reverse love story set in Paris and London, a failed monogamist attempts to woo his wife back and to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love with your spouse?

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

According to the New York Times, this novel is ”Haunting, sophisticated . . . a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents.”

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, by Marja Mills

Harper Lee wrote one of America’s best-loved novels, To Kill a Mockingird.  She has not written another novel since and has not granted any interviews for the past fifty years.  That is, until she invited Marja Mills to move in next door to her and share her life story. 

All Fall Down, by Jennifer Weiner

On the outside, she’s got it all: money, a beautiful family, and a nice house.  But an addiction to prescription pills could erase the lovely picture.

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Foam Rolling – Why It’s So Beneficial!

There are many different stretching exercises out there and all have similar goals: increase flexibility, improve performance and reduce muscle soreness.  One of the more recent and effective additions to the world of stretching is foam rolling.  Due to a recent injury, I have spent a lot of time rolling and learning first hand about its benefits and I have been amazed at the results.

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What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rollers are cylinders about 6 inches in diameter and usually about 36 inches long that you lie on and roll over your muscles to help to loosen tight muscles. Foam rolling actually increases circulation so the connective tissue and muscles receive more oxygen and water than stretching alone.  In addition, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that acts similarly to massage. Meaning not only do you get the benefits of working out muscle knots and tightness, but you also get the same reduction in stress releasing hormones and improved mood and relaxation that you get from a massage.  Some call it the ‘poor man’s massage’.

A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research documented the benefits of foam rolling before a workout.  The study tracked 2 groups of active people: one group used a foam roller before working out and the other group did not.  The group that used the rollers not only felt less sore after their workouts, they also felt that the workouts were not as difficult.

Foam rolling is not only beneficial for those who work out, it is also great for anyone who sits for long periods of time.  Long bouts of sitting are not good for our bodies (that is a whole other blog topic!) but for most of us, it can’t be avoided.  Foam rolling is also an excellent way to reverse the harmful effects of long-term sitting.

Tips of How and When to Roll:

  • How to roll.  Either find a trigger point (painful spot) and apply pressure, or roll along the muscle (like a massage). A combination of both usually works best.
  • Roll before and after a workout. 
  • Hydrate before you roll.  In general, hydrated tissue is resilient and more susceptible to the benefits of rolling while pliable dehydrated tissue is glued-down and sticky.
  • Do it slowly.  You want slow and purposeful movements.  When you hit a painful area, stay on it – that is where you need to focus.
  • Move in multiple directions. It’s not just up-and-down; muscles and fascia attach at different angles and even in spirals, so roll in different directions.
  • Make it a daily habit.  Even if you aren’t at the gym, make a point of rolling those muscles.  Think of it like flossing – it is daily maintenance.
  • Don’t foam roll on joints.

Personally, foam rolling is the single best thing I have done to combat my injuries.  The benefit is immediate; with each rolling session, I feel noticeable improvement.  I plan to make foam rolling a permanent part of my daily routine in hopes of not only speeding up my recovery, but reducing my chance for future injuries.

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