Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Simple Habits for Longevity

The other day on Facebook, a friend shared an article that reminded me how we can make small changes in our daily lives that will improve our health and help to extend our longevity....even without breaking a sweat!
FLOSSING our teeth can add anywhere from 1.5 - 6.4 years!!!  The combination of fighting gum disease AND heart disease is flossing's "anti-aging" trick.  As with any new activity that we want to make a habit, we need to create a routine.  This morning while flossing, I thought about 3 things I wanted to accomplish today.  One was this blogpost, so I was going over the things that I believe to be easy longevity tricks that I wanted to research and share.  When flossing at nite, you can think about 3 things for which you are grateful from that day.  Before you know it, you have flossed between every tooth while practicing daily mindfulness.  Here is an article discussing the benefits and how-tos!!
Our bodies are comprised of 70% water.  Thus, DRINKING WATER refills what we lose through perspiration and the daily behind-the-scenes working of our cells.  It is recommended to drink half your body weight of water, in ounces (i.e. a 130 lb person needs to consume 65 ounces of water everyday).  Our skin is our largest organ and it needs water to maintain firmness and elasticity, especially as we age.  Often times when we think we are hungry, we are actually simply thirsty.  Therefore, drinking water can help with weight loss (or maintenance).  Not having enough water in our systems makes our muscles sluggish and we cannot perform physical activities well.  That is especially true when exercising, so drink plenty of fluids enough in advance to get the results you are working toward.  Water helps with elimination, keeping our kidneys and bowels healthy.  This article will shed more light on these areas and gives five tips for getting more water into your day, to include by eating fruits & veggies!!
We can heal and enhance our bodies with the foods we eat and those we avoid.  Following an ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET, like this one recommended by well-respected Dr. Anthony Weil, helps work through and ward off chronic inflammation, which, when left unchecked, is what leads to diseases, like cancer, heart disease, even Alzheimer's, and, ultimately, death.  Eating the right combination of proteins, carbs & fats, supplementing with vitamins and minerals and drinking plenty of water are the keys.  Unfortunately, the typical American "diet" is completely unbalanced and includes far too many of the aggravating foods.  Here is a quick article that provides a bit of detail on some antioxidants that are super beneficial for healing and maintaining a healthy systemic balance.  Add and remove foods gradually as to not be completely overwhelmed by the process, thus avoiding falling into the trap of giving up. 
Stress, especially the chronic type under which many people "operate" on a daily basis, is a killer!  We must find ways to manage our stress to avoid an early death!!  MEDITATION is one of those ways.  It doesn't have to be transcendental, for hours at a time or even in a retreat setting, tho any of those can be part of your practice!  However, setting aside several minutes in your day to center yourself, to be mindful, to go inward and work with your inner magic is equally beneficial and, quite frankly, what most of us will fit into our lives, at least initially. (I believe that once you start making many positive changes to enhance your life and see the benefits, you will begin to set as a priority more & longer healthy practices.)  Meditation does many things, like bringing clarity and focus to your days, nurturing your creativity and promoting health and healing.  I have started to meditate using the seven chakras.  I take in and release several deep, cleansing breaths and start with the first chakra, the root chakra.  The chakras ascend the body and are associated with the colors of the rainbow (Roy G. Biv, for those who know this little memory helper!).  I take a few moments or minutes with each one, then I focus on areas of my body that are sore and channel healing thoughts and, finally, taking deep breaths from my roots and pulling them up & out through my crown. 
"THINK POSITIVE and positive things will happen."  Having an optimistic outlook and personality, as well as a positive attitude about aging, specifically, can add 5+ years to your life!!  Constant negative thoughts and beliefs not only drag you down, they work internally to damage your cells.  Changing those thoughts and beliefs changes your cells!!!  Revitalizing you from the inside out!  You ARE happier.  You smile more.  What you put out into the Universe comes back to you, multiplied!  You have an aura of health and radiance!  Others want to be around you!  You inspire others to be like you!! 
And, as a final practice, check out this TedX talk by John Marcotte where STRIKING A SUPERHERO POSE for just 2 minutes does the following:  "Your power hormone testosterone rises by 8% and your stress hormone cortisol drops by 25%… YES 25%!  And lastly, the research also showed that if you pose like a superhero for just 2 minutes you are more likely to take a risk."  You don't have to be wearing a costume to enjoy the benefits, but it would bring a smile to the faces of many who witness your ability to have some fun, get a laugh and take a risk!!! 
After 60-90 days of practice, an activity is hard-wired, thus becoming a habit which you will do automatically.
As always, To Your Health!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

What Do You See?

When you look at me, what do you see?


A person who had an idyllic childhood? 

Can you tell whether or not I attended college?  What do you think I would have studied?

Do you know that I was a certified optician?

Do you know that I lost my father when he was 49?

Do you see my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?

Can you see that I had the tips of my cervix cauterized in 2001 for pre-cancerous cells?

Do you see a lesbian because my hair is short?  Or because I am usually in the company of my spouse, Chris?

Do you see someone spiritual?  Can you tell my religion??

Do you know that I have been with Chris for over two decades?

Can you tell my age?

Do you know how many siblings I have?

If I have any children?

Am I a good-hearted person?

Can you see if I am a trusted friend?

Do you know if I have any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender friends?


I am 42 years young.  I do have a college degree, but attending college was not my first choice.  I had dreamed of moving to California to study hair & makeup and work in movies!  My major was Criminal Justice.  I have been an optician, a probation officer, an administrative assistant, a retail employee and an intelligence analyst, among others.  I grew up in a home where there was often physical and verbal abuse.  My father died of colorectal cancer at the young age of 49 and I do my best everyday to be healthy and not fall prey to that most horrible of diseases.  I am Pagan, not Christian (much to my mother-in-law’s chagrin and not for her lack of trying!) … I am also a good-hearted person and trusted friend.  I believe my actions are indicative of who I am authentically, more than my words.  I was a bit promiscuous in high school (lookin' for love in all the wrong places, as it were!!), which most likely led to me getting HPV and then precancerous cells on my cervix.  I met the cutest guy in 1989 and instantly fell in love.  We have changed our hairstyles, our weight, our places of residence quite a few times over the 25 years we have been together.  We now share some dresses.  I am not a lesbian, neither is Chris.  (Figure it out…get educated…be informed.)  I have many LGBT friends and I LOVE them!  We have attended 3 Pride parades (Key West, Chicago and Denver) and simply cannot wait for Denver’s this June!  I love to watch drag shows and roller derby!  I live in Colorado, but I don’t ski or snowboard or snowmobile.  I have 8 tattoos and counting!  I have 3 younger siblings, who have been raised by our mother.  While I do not have any children of my own, I have many nieces, nephews and great-nephews whom I love dearly.


I could go on and on, as many of you could!  Unless you KNOW, really and truly KNOW, a person, the things on the surface are not all they seem.  To discriminate based on what you THINK you know about a person at first glance is intolerable … and shameful.


A couple week's ago, we went to Happy Hour at the Thirsty Lion.  While perusing the menu, I saw an appetizer for Bacon Wrapped Dates.  It had some kind of cheese along with almonds inside a date that was wrapped in bacon and baked.  I thought about getting them...then, I thought, I could make these!!!
Since I try to stay away from dairy, I decided to make mine without the cheese. 
My first attempt included some yummy nitrite & nitrate-free peppered bacon from Trader Joe's.  I stuffed my pitted dates (this is important: buy the PITTED dates so you don't have to try to remove them yourself!) with raw almonds and wrapped it in a small square cut from a full slice of bacon that I secure with a toothpick.  Baked at 400 degrees, maybe 15 minutes.  Pretty darn good!
For my second version, I decided to soak the almonds to soften them.  Even better!!!  We also dipped them in Dijon and spicy brown mustards!  I liked both mustards, Chris didn't particularly like either.  He felt the savory of the mustards took too much away from the sweet of the dates. 
For my third (yep...we are already at the 3rd!), I used a nitrite & nitrate-free bacon from King Soopers.  This one is more like traditional bacon, with the marbling of fat, while the Trader Joe's was more the consistency of turkey bacon.  This attempt got WAY crunchier.  I like my bacon crunchy, Chris does not!  So, while he liked the taste of this one, he felt it was too crispy!
Personally, I like the Trader Joe's bacon the best and, next time, I might just leave it in the oven a little longer to see if it can crisp up.  We are going to make these as an appetizer for Easter when we host Matthew & Megan (and maybe Mark).  Serving it with our own honey mustard made by mixing the Dijon and honey!  (I will also put out the bottles of mustard, too, just in case anyone wants to give it a taste test!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Living & Learning

I recently learned of a cancer diagnosis of the husband of a friend, one of the trainers from Fit Chick Express. 
 This is a guy younger than me, who is active and eats well.  He and his wife have spent most of their years together traveling internationally.  In example, they spent this past New Year's Eve in Iceland!  He recently held a "Travel Tips" chat that Chris and I attended, so we could learn and put into practice their tricks!   
Today, I found out he has both lung & liver cancer and their progress is far along.  I did a little internet research and find that both of these cancers operate rather silently, meaning that signs or symptoms are almost nil.  With almost nothing to warn you along the way, once a diagnosis is made, the battle is an uphill one. 
I believe in the power of our beliefs, thoughts, intentions to change our cellular biology!  Our mind-body connection is so very powerful, if only we recognize and honor it!
I know that my friend will exhaust every natural (alternative) treatment in his tireless effort to prolong his life.  And he has a large community of folks sending him positive energies!!
With the 13th anniversary of my dad's death, from colon cancer, only 4 days away, many thoughts & emotions are stirring within me.  I am more determined than ever to keep my health & wellness a priority: to listen to my inner guidance, to have my blood work checked yearly (as a precaution and baseline), to use the necessary medical tests that check my colon for any issues and to continue to educate myself on my mind-body connection. 
I am also going to make travel with Chris a priority! 
Tomorrow is not guaranteed and I am determined to LIVE fully!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blessed Ostara

Hail, and welcome!
Green life returns to the earth
blooming and blossoming
once more from the soil.
We welcome you,
goddesses of spring,
Eostre, Persephone, Flora, Cybele,
in the trees,
in the soil,
in the flowers,
in the rains,
and we are grateful
for your presence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Up One Side, Down the Other

Back at the beginning of February, while running in City Park one morning, I injured my hips.  I don't know why or how, as I hadn't done anything different from any previous jogs.  Maybe because it was a bit cool, my body just wasn't interested!  However, I did exactly opposite of what I would have told anyone else...I kept pushing.  The pain started almost immediately, but I thought I would work it out.  I slowed my pace considerably, I alternated with walking and I also did walking lunges.  I did my planned three laps around the lake. 
I then paid for it, dearly!  The rest of that day, it was so painful to walk.  I felt decrepit!  But I hid it from Chris, so that I didn't have to hear him tsk-tsk me about it.  Walking was painful for many weeks thereafter, actually.  I haven't been back out to run, as I continue to heal up.  I can tell my hips are still holding on to something because if I sit too long, they ache when I get up to walk. 
I have been meditating on them, as well as soreness in my shoulders, bringing my mind-body connection to the forefront of my healing process.  I like to focus on each of my chakras and then concentrate on my areas that need extra special, healing, attention.  I have also been more conscious of morning stretching, which I like to do just before or just after my quick meditation. 
Since I don't want to lose my cardio, but I don't yet want to jog or run, I have been doing walking incline intervals on the treadmill at the gym.  I keep the steady pace of 3.5 and set the incline at 6%.  Every three minutes I increase the incline (also) by three, peaking at 15%.  I then go back down the hill the same way, 3% decline every 3 minutes, to 6%.  I stay at 6 incline a minute or two longer, then decrease both my speed and incline (.5) for a cool-down.  I finish with stretching, off the treadmill.
I teach Cardio Kickboxing, but sometimes it just isn't enough of a challenge for me, so I need to find new ways to keep my fitness in check.  Which means, I need to get back to the bag for a good 20-minute solo workout!  That will also do the trick!!   

Monday, March 16, 2015

Growing up in the 70's & early 80's

frozen dinners in the silver trays
jarts (yard darts)
running thru a sprinkler
pb&j sandwiches
sack lunches
dinners, make that most meals, at home (spaghetti, mac & cheese, meatloaf, stuffed peppers, fried bologna)
dressing up as a gypsy for Halloween
using pillow cases for trick-or-treat bags
horrible plastic masks and jumpsuits for store-bought costumes
the first nike tennis shoes (red, white & blue!!) 
45's in a carrying case 
terrycloth shorts with knee socks 
being a flower girl (often) 
friendship bracelets 
barrettes with the ribbons 
safety pins with beads on your shoes 
making potholders 
playing outside until it was dark and your mom called you home 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pass the Protein, Please!

Taking even more stock of my health is bringing me to a point where I believe I am going to have to try the Paleo style of eating.  I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and I believe some rashes I have are directly connected to that and the foods I am eating.  The rash isn't itchy or painful, just ugly.  It's in my inner elbows and around my armpits.  It's not new, but I decided to research it because applying cortisone cream doesn't do a thing. 
In my research, I have come across many postings that gluten and leaky-gut are issues connected to Hashimoto's.  I have also read that soy, corn, dairy and sugar are other culprits. 
Dairy is a contributor to acne, which is why I chose to take it out of my diet years ago.  We stopped drinking cow's milk (sure do miss my skim) and I have tried to avoid any food products.  However, I will add half & half to my coffee when I am out.  I also LOVE Greek yogurt, particularly Fage, and cheese, but I know to limit myself. 
My previous post was about my monthly cookie addiction, so we all know that I eat sugar! 
I will use soy milk in my coffee occasionally, but we moved from soy milk to almond milk a number of years ago, due to soy's negative interaction with hormones. 
Corn, well, it's in almost everything these days!!!  And who doesn't like a corn tortilla or tortilla chips, for that matter!?!

I will have to forgo my all-time favorite food, pizza!  I know, I know, I can make it with gluten-free crust...and I guess no cheese (???).  It just won't be the same.  I would eat pizza everyday, if I let myself! 

I will have to search for gluten-free craft beers.  I know that ciders are gluten-free, but I love to try a porter or a stout!

When we are on vacation, I might have to be creative or just go with it.  I'm not going to get all caught up in what I can or cannot eat, thereby getting hungry and grouchy and, thus, having a bad time.  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.

And I know that I have been eating many of these food sources recently:  beer, corn tortillas and chips at a Mexican restaurant, half & half, SUGAR(!) and another beloved, my steel-cut oats. 
It's not going to be easy, that's for damn sure!

But I am SO lucky to have a husband who will roll with the punches and pretty much eat anything I prepare.  We are healthy eaters, at least 80% of the time, but now we will be more diligent and dedicated.  It will be a health boon for us both.  And the clean eating is going to melt off the fat (just like when we did "Body for Life" for 6 weeks back in 2001!)!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cookie Monster

As many of you know, I like to work out and I am a Group Fitness Instructor, so often times I get paid to exercise.  I also try to eat healthy and drink plenty of H2O.  I like to practice an 80/20 eating style:  80% of the time I am eating & drinking well, while 20% of the time I indulge.
Except when it comes to one particular week a month (with me ladies??).
I then become The Cookie Monster!!
I kid you not! 
And I think this past week Chris must have been getting some really strong vibes because he kept bringing cookies home!  Individually wrapped chocolate chip ones.  Another day, ginger, oatmeal raisin and more chocolate chip ones, which I put in freezer bags.  I also made some oatmeal craisin that included flax seed and protein powder.
Well, guess who couldn't keep her hands off almost every cookie?!?  Yep, including the ones in the freezer!  It's ridiculous, right?  I mean, I know how unhealthy they are for me, but I keep going back for more.
While I know you cannot exercise away bad eating habits, I worked out a little more last week than my usual weeks.  Sheesh!  And with us heading to the beaches of Puerto Rico in less than 5 weeks, I need to be ever more mindful about what I am putting in my mouth.  Alcohol, too.  And more focused on moving my body every single day!
I will have one more of "these" weeks before we go, so I hope that I catch myself and make sure that I only have the healthiest of options on hand! 
I am so glad I don't know anyone close with daughters selling Girl Scout Cookies b/c those would all be in my belly, too.  (Samoas and Thin Mints, particularly.....but please, oh, please, don't send me a box!  Until my birthday, that is!  HeeHee!!)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Best Laid Plans

We wanted to stay at three different places while visiting Puerto Rico.  On or near the west side, on the island of Vieques off the east side and Old San Juan.  I quickly got responses from Vieques and Old San Juan for the places we liked.  I sent a message to one near Isabela several days ago and received nothing in response!  I then went to another rental site and quickly found a house to rent and sent a quote request.  I received an email asking me to call the owner.  I called the owner, who asked me then to text him the info (which was already in the email to which he responded, mind you!).  He said he was in the car and would call me upon landing at his office.  I sent the text.  Hear the crickets chirping??  I also sent an email reply to the one he sent to me......still no response.
I was feeling a bit uneasy about all of the driving and nervous about making it from one side of the island to the other to arrive early enough to do all we need to do to catch the ferry to Vieques.  I believe the uneasy feeling I was getting was inner guidance about not being so busy and all over the place this particular trip.
So, we are now going directly to Vieques and staying 5 nites, where we will be within walking distance of the beach, where our "hosts" live on the property, have been very accommodating about discounts and payment and will be available for island advice, where we can relax and live in bathing suits and tank tops for 5 days straight and we won't have to pack up after 3 nites!!
We will then head back to the mainland for 2 nites in Old San Juan to experience the city and its amazing Spanish and Caribbean architecture.
Should we make a return trip, perhaps a long stay on the west side, the beaches of Rincon, will be the plan.  There are ruins, sort of in the middle of the mainland, and several rain forests/jungles that we will make part of our second visit, too.  Therefore, it makes much more sense to enjoy that whole side for one trip and off the east for this one!  If we were going to be there for two weeks, then I would do each side about 5 days, still finishing in Old San Juan.
AND....since we are staying on Vieques and they no longer offer a ferry between the two islands (a mere 8 miles apart!), we might just catch a day flight to Culebra and experience the famous Flamenco Beach!  When on the islands, one simply must island hop, right?  ;)
Another plus that I just learned from my friend, Mario, the island of Vieques is very LGBT-friendly (he is a gay man who loves to travel and saw a travel show on Vieques and has been wanting to visit with his adorable hubby, Billy, ever since)! 
I am feeling much better about the whole trip and, really, vacationing shouldn't make one anxious.
So, best laid plans and all ... the Universe was looking out for us by having communication failures with those other two rentals ... and that is that! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 ~ Chapter Two, February

So, here we are into the third month of this year!  Are you still keeping up with creating your chapters?  February is Chris's birthday month!  We celebrated with brunch at one of our favorite downtown spots, the Irish Snug.  Bottomless mimosas for $9 (on weekends)!!  We both had a waffle entrĂ©e....MMmmmm!!!  We also went out that nite to be part of the entourage of a Latina singer from Ft. Wayne, Indiana (of all places)!  Chris has a cousin, who I met for the first time that nite, who is managing this singer, Amanda Perez.  She was performing in Colorado over the weekend and Denver fell on Valentine's Day, Chris's birthday!  After the show, we helped with the VIP and the photo ops and the signings and then we all went to some hole-in-the-wall Mexican spot on Federal to grab tacos/burritos.  When we got home, I tore into mine and gobbled up half!  So good!  We are going to have to head back that way, in daylight, for more steak tacos!  I kid you not!  I am really craving it!!! 
What else for February???  We got hit with quite a bit of snow and I posted about how we went out one evening and walked to City Park.  We both got new tattoos on the 1st!  Chris a raven on his left forearm and me a siren (mermaid) on my left side/ribcage. 
That same week, we went to a concert at the Colorado Symphony.  It was "Danny Elfman's Music from Tim Burton's Films".  This was Chris's early birthday gift!  We went out for appetizers and drinks at Russell's Smokehouse before the show.  Unfortunately, we thought Danny Elfman would be there, so we bought expensive tickets, up close!  Oh well!  Live & learn!  The concert hall is beautiful and now we know where good seats, for less, are located!  The symphony performance took me away, almost an out-of-body experience.  For much of the performance, images from the movies were shown on large screens, so you were watching that and hearing the beautiful instrumentals. 
Continuing in our spirit of community and volunteerism, Chris was a volunteer for a big LGBT conference, Creating Change, which was held this year in Denver. 
We attended a talk about travel tips held up in Longmont at Fit Chick Express.  We were, of course, already mulling over our vacation plans, but it certainly helped stoke the fire of my wanderlust! 
I met up with a few friends in Longmont one morning/early afternoon.  Enjoyed coffee & talk with my friend, Paula, with whom I worked at Vision Source (about this time last year).  Then I met with Dawna and Amy for sushi.  They all fill my cup to overflowing with their love, support and friendship.  It helps fill up my tank and get me revved up! 
We went out Saturday nite to watch a burlesque and drag show.  Our friends, Dan & Ted, joined us...for the first half.  We then joined back up with them at the bar after the show.  The burlesque performers are amateur, so the show was okay.  However, one of the performers is a girl I worked with at Halloween City!!!  She did her first show the week before Halloween.  She stopped by our table to say hello!  I told her she looked very comfortable and she said it is the most fun thing she has ever done!  WOW!  And burlesque takes a ton of courage!!!  So, it was just good to support local talent. 
After only a few hours of sleep, we took ourselves for breakfast at Denver Biscuit Co.  We each tried a new biscuit option:  me, the pulled pork, called the Elmer (I think!!) and Chris, the DBC Club, which included fried chicken & bacon!  While we didn't share (tho we each offered), both are super delicious!  Thus far, we have had the Franklin, the Dahlia, the Elmer and the DBC.  Along with good, self-serve coffee! 
Vacation plans are coming along!  We have our bio bay tour scheduled, our 2 nites on Vieques reserved. as well as our 2 nites in Old San Juan.  I am still waiting to hear back from a place on the northwest side for the first 3 nites; it's a cabin in a jungle, which is only walking distance to the beach!!  It will be somewhat reminiscent of Ogden Dunes!!!  Our tiny cottage on Vieques is walking distance to the Malecon with shops, restaurants, bars and the beach, too!!  The apartment in Old San Juan is located in a Spanish architecture building and we should be able to walk around to restaurants, bars, etc.  I need to reserve our rental car and buy a hard copy map for all of the driving we will do.  I also want to take our GPS (I need to put it in my car to get it updated), so we can cover as many of our bases as possible....I hear driving can be a bit hairy there!! 
I have to complete our taxes before we leave!  Ugh!! 
I'm also getting back into reading about health and wellness and longevity.  How aging doesn't have to be about decay, but can be all about growth!  I have been reading a book at Tattered Cover called "Younger Next Year" and it has me inspired to start my wellness website!  I just got Dr. Christiane Northrup's "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom", which is the size of a dictionary!  And I am awaiting the delivery of her newest book, "Goddesses Never Age".  Yes, she uses the word "goddess" in her book!  Can you believe it?!  Awesome!
In addition to my personal writings here, I am sharing workouts on www.womenlivefit.com.  This website is for the women who can't attend Fit Chick Express, mostly because they don't live in or near Longmont, but want to live a healthy and active life.  Angie, the owner of Fit Chick Express, created the site and asked if I would contribute.  I need to work on some health and nutrition blog posts to share, which I will initially write here and share there. 
I have plenty of things rolling around my brain!  Sometimes, it seems, too many!  So I just need to get better at juggling and scheduling time for working each creative outlet!  
I have two great aunts who have suffered some serious health issues.  One, diagnosed with COPD, has been hospitalized back home, but is doing better by leaps & bounds, thanks to physical therapy!  The other, who has been in a nursing home for many years, also in Indiana, suffering from Parkinson's disease, primarily, is soon going to join her husband, her sisters (one of which is my grandma), my dad and many others of our large family who have died.  The family, her kids, my older cousins, have brought Hospice in to help, which immediately takes me back to my dad's final week.  I have been struggling with sadness, a full month ahead of the 13th anniversary of his death.
And, while writing this post, I received a message that my aunt has passed.  She went peacefully and now she can be with her husband.   Teresa Grimmer Rector 3-28-26 to 3-3-15.

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