Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the #1 New York Times bestseller by Japanese “decluttering guru” Marie Kondo?  She recently published a companion to the book called Spark Joy, which I received in my January PopSugar subscription box.  I cracked it open last Friday night (no, I don’t get out much) and was inspired to do a little tidying project over the weekend.

Spark Joy

In the spirit of full disclosure, I only read sixty pages of Spark Joy.  The first three chapters explain the theory of Kondo’s method of tidying and organizing, and they’re an interesting, quick read.  The remainder of the book, however, consists of detailed instructions and diagrams like this:

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Diminishing marginal returns to poring over those, my friends.  Ultimately, the key to the ‘KonMari method’ is this: throw away (or donate) everything you don’t like in order to create a living space that brings you joy.  Don’t worry if the items were expensive or you feel like you should keep them for some other reason.

room

Kondo posits that we can lead happier lives by surrounding ourselves with only the possessions we truly love.  I agree – while tidying up obviously won’t solve my biggest problems, it might help me make decisions from a calmer, more rational place.

After filling several garbage bags with old clothes and shoes (goodbye, faux-snakeskin Guess platform stilettos.  Goodbye, skater Vans), I traded my white comforter for a new one in pale pink, and it really brightened up my room.  I’ve always kept my spaces somewhat bare – my college roommates would poke fun at me for never hanging a single picture on my walls – but luckily Spark Joy includes advice for others with this tendency: add color.  Kondo noticed that color was lacking in the homes of her clients who tidied every room but somehow didn’t feel finished with the job.  They found it helped to add some extra joy after completing their discarding and organizing.

bookshelf

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I decided to cap off my weekend of putting things in order with a Sunday afternoon vinyasa yoga class.  It very nearly killed me.  One of these winters I’ll stay in shape despite the cold…

yoga

 

new year's resolutions

Low-Key New Year’s Resolutions

Rather than having highly specific goals and timelines for my life, I’ve always believed that hard work will somehow take me where I need to go.  This leaves me open to new experiences but can also be overwhelming – sometimes the possibilities spin through my head so fast I can’t even figure out what to do on average weekend, much less feel confident that my more consequential choices are bringing me closer to my happiest, most fulfilled life.  Over the past several months, I’ve realized I need to slow down, chill out, and be a little more deliberate in my decision-making.  Here are a few strategies I came up with – I’m calling them my New Year’s resolutions because it’s still January.  They’ll require some effort but cost nothing and only take five minutes a day. Continue reading

A Simple, No-Equipment Circuit Workout

We got our first proper snow in Columbus today (it actually put me in a good mood — all the cold weather without snow here gets old!) along with ten-degree temperatures, so I thought I’d share a circuit workout you can do indoors without any equipment.  Many of the exercises hit more than one muscle group, and in case you too have the attention span of a flea, there are no complicated movements or photographs to follow.  I ran through it once in about 20 minutes before work this morning, but feel free to repeat if you have the time and feel good!

Office Snow

Today at the office

Instructions: Choose a cardio exercise, such as marching in place, jumping jacks, jumping rope, or high knees.  Alternate one minute of cardio with one minute of each move below in order.  Complete as many repetitions as you can with the exception of 6. Plank and 10. Glute Bridge, which you’ll simply hold for the full 60 seconds.

1. Mountain Climbers
Begin in a push-up position. Pick up your right knee and drive it toward your left elbow, then do the same on the opposite side — left knee toward right elbow.

2. Squat Jumps
Begin in a squat position, as if you were sitting in a chair. Jump as high as you can, and try to land softly.

3. Lunges

4. Push-ups

5. Crab Walk (looks dumb but it’s good for your shoulders!)

6. Plank – Hold for 1 minute
Position yourself as if you were starting a push-up, but rest on your forearms instead of your palms.

7. Burpees
Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Thrust your feet back so you land at the top of a push-up.  Complete a push-up, then bring your feet back to the starting position. Finally, jump straight up, raising your hands above your head.

8. Crunches

9. Back Extension
Lay on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you. Using the strength of your lower back, lift your arms and legs several inches off the ground. Pause at the top, then gently return to start.

10. Glute Bridge – Hold for 1 minute
Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms at your sides. Pressing your heels into the ground, slowly lift your hips and hold.

My First Juice Cleanse

Every so often, I realize I’ve eaten mostly carbs and cheese for weeks on end.  Cereal for breakfast, pizza for lunch, mac and cheese for dinner.  Maybe one of the giant chocolate chip cookies from our cafe at work in the afternoon, which more or less send me into a coma within seconds of the last bite.

I decided to do a juice cleanse as a healthy reset during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Of course extreme diets aren’t sustainable over the long term; I just wanted a reminder that I don’t actually need to eat dessert after every meal.  A coworker had recently completed a three day cleanse she’d bought at a SambaFresh location 10 minutes from our office, which sounded easy enough.  I went online and ordered the three-day Rainbow Cleanse, which consists of 6 juices per day for $144.

SambaFreh screenshot

An image from the SambaFresh homepage

So I go to pick up the cleanse that Sunday.  And guess what, people.  The juices do not look like that picture.  They’re just a little bit more separated.  And my assortment did not come in a rainbow, because a new guy was working there all alone and no one had explained to him how to prepare my order.  I ended up leaving with a day’s worth of random juices and a promise that I could pick up the rest the following evening.  Money well spent, right?

Juice cleanse

Day 1

But I was still excited to get started the following day, and ended up feeling pretty good!  I wasn’t irritable or starving.  I think I would have been hungrier if the cleanse required me to spend a lot of time planning meals and preparing food, but with everything I needed already ready to go, I could put food out of my mind.  That alone might lead me to consider another juice cleanse.

However, that cleanse may not be from SambaFresh.  I stopped by the New Albany store after work for my remaining twelve juices and explained the situation to the girl behind the counter.  She got the exact same “oh, shit” look on her face as the guy the day before and disappeared into the back to check the fridge.  That’s probably the look I would get too, if I had to deal with people who are making multiple trips to pick up their product and haven’t eaten solid food in days.

Of course they hadn’t prepared the rest of my cleanse, but it was finally ready the next morning.  I was too embarrassed to ask if I could leave the bottles I wouldn’t be drinking at work in the store’s fridge for the day because I’d acted sort of obnoxious the night before, so I lugged my big box of juice into the office and snuck half the bottles into a fridge on another floor because the one by my desk is always packed.  Yes, I’m sure someone saw me do this.

I felt good on Day 2 as well; alert and focused well into the afternoon whereas most days I drink my morning coffee and it’s downhill from there.  (Also – this cleanse and many others advise cutting out caffeine, but I still drank my usual medium coffee all three days).  I skipped one juice in the afternoon because it was too spicy — next time you’re whipping up a green smoothie, I wouldn’t recommend adding habanero peppers to your granny smith apple-and-dandelion blend — and had some pretzels instead, but I didn’t crave any other food.  I think paying over $100 for the cleanse helped me want to stick to it.

And Day 3 (the day before Thanksgiving)…was a half day.  The juices started off tasting okay in the mornings since they incorporated fruits and sweeter vegetables like carrots, but the green juices in the afternoon were hard to take.  And I expected the last drink of the day, a protein drink of a thicker consistency that incorporated cacao powder and nuts, to taste like a chocolate shake, but it didn’t.  It tasted like liquified dates, because the main ingredient was dates.  Oh well.  I would have finished it off, but we left the office pretty early, which allowed me to drive back to Michigan and see friends that evening.  We capped our night at Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit, which I believe is a fitting end to any juice cleanse.

I’m Back!

Well, seems I haven’t made much time to blog over the past month.  The weeks leading up to Black Friday got busy at work, and the holiday season and all that comes with it started right after.

I’ve always struggled to find a balance between having fun and doing serious work, whether it’s related to my day job or writing.  By that I mean I’m kind of uptight and have held myself back from going out with friends or trying something new in order to stay in my room and study or just wait for the next day to come so I could start over.

I didn’t think much about how I missed out until I graduated from Michigan and started working.  There was no epiphany or single event that brought it on; maybe just the realization that I wouldn’t live in the same neighborhood as the people I’d shared the college experience with and come to care about anymore.

Over the last couple years I’ve tried to swing to a healthier balance (okay, I’ve tried most of the time — I’m a textbook introvert!).  In November and December that’s resulted in the neglect of my blog and being one of the only people doing tequila shots at the company holiday party, but ’tis the season, I guess.  I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving, and here are some pictures from the past few weeks:

Pittsburgh

Girls weekend in Pittsburgh

Detroit

Detroit the night before Thanksgiving


Bruce

Bruce J. Whitefoot


Big Bang

Hollister holiday party at The Big Bang


New Years Group Dinner

Christmas dinner with family friends

 

A Welcome Reminder

There’s a yoga instructor at one of the Lifetime Fitness locations in Columbus whose class I’ll drive twenty minutes out of my way to attend.  She challenges you enough that you’re forced to stay in the moment, but the flows also make so much sense that you feel like a dancer (although I’d hazard a guess that’s not how I actually look).  I always feel ten times better afterward.

Anyway, this instructor said something last week during our warm-up that stuck with me.  It was just in passing; one sentence of the three- or four-minute meditation we were guided through to start the class.  But I’ve kept coming back to this phrase, using it.  She said, “Let go of whatever it is you think you need to hang on to.”

It wasn’t “Let go of the things that are bothering you” or “Let go of anything that didn’t work out today.”  It was, “there is no reason for those things to bother you” and “you have another chance tomorrow, so forget today.”  Deciding you need to be ashamed or embarrassed about anything will only make you miserable.  It seems obvious now that I type the words, but at the time it came as a welcome reminder.  I hope it helps you, too.  Good night! 🙂