Lunch Packs For Hungry Children

So apparently nobody else does anything stupid.  Or at least nothing anybody wanted to share.  I pretty much figured I was alone on that one.  My daughter found it hilarious.

LunchpacksSpeaking of the girl…It’s so hard to teach someone who wants for no necessity how important it is to give back.  When you’re never exposed to poverty, it’s hard to understand the concept that there are little children in our own city living in families that can’t even send them to pre-school with a lunch.  So, with the help of Projects Helping Houston, her “homeroom” class decided for their service project that they would pack lunches and I would take them to Kids Meals Houston to deliver them to children who needed them.

Projects Helping Houston would like to do this again, but on a larger scale! So this morning a GoFundMe campaign was launched in an effort to raise more funds! Please consider sharing and/or donating so that we can play a part in helping to feed these hungry children.

 

So That Just Happened

losemymindSo, I pretty much failed at yesterday.  There are two routes/locations for the park and ride bus that I take to work.  One of them is brand new and I just started riding last week.  Which one I take depends on what I have to do after work and which direction I will be heading in, so there’s no real consistency to what days I’m taking which bus.  When the new route started I joked that it would be funny if it happened.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that yesterday I finally did it…I GOT ON THE WRONG BUS.  I took one bus to work, but got on the other one to go home.

Do you know what it feels like, as a grown freaking woman, to have to call your mother to come pick you up from one park and ride lot to take you to another park and ride lot where your car is actually parked?!?!?!?  Probably not.  Because…WHO DOES THAT?!?  And this is why I said yesterday that I need more sleep.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one that does these kinds of things.  Surely not.  Anybody?  Anybody else at all?!?

5 Reasons to Get More Sleep

time-is-money-1339781_640I haven’t been very focused lately. Probably because I haven’t been able to sleep very well for the last few weeks (I’m going to blame it on PTSD from Harvey). I love my sleep. Not going to lie, I go to bed way too early for a person under 40. But I miss having my own office so I could shut the door and catch a quick cat nap during lunch. Those days were uh-MAZ-ing and made all the difference in the world in so many aspects of my life. Aside from not feeling like your batsh*t crazy all the time, getting enough sleep can also

  1. Lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke
  2. Improve the body’s immune functions
  3. Reduce the risk for obesity and aid in weight loss
  4. Improve concentration and productivity
  5. Reduce risk of inflammation

sleepIt’s not only about the quantity of sleep, but the QUALITY of sleep is significant as well. Not getting enough GOOD sleep can be so incredibly detrimental to your health and yet I hear people boast all the time about being able to live on 3-4 hours of sleep a night. It makes me cry a little on the inside every time I hear this knowing the damage this could be doing to their body without even knowing it. Just because you can’t feel the damage being done doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

So now I just have to get back into my “good” bedtime practices. Since CSI Miami has been taken off Netflix as of this morning, maybe that will help. I don’t even know why, but I’m still SOOOOOOOO upset I didn’t get through the series before it happened. Although I made it to the last season, it was a challenge that I failed. I’ll just have to find another way. My daughter suggested that I go to the…gaspwait for it…LIBRARY…since they have all the seasons on DVD. Maybe I’ll think about doing that after our college tour visit to Austin this weekend…Wait…what? I have a daughter old enough to be looking at colleges? WTH?!?!? I guess for now I will just take solace in the fact that my biggest problem currently is that I don’t have enough time to binge watch an almost mildly entertaining series on Netflix.

This Week’s Random Thoughts

Since I’ve been completely in a funk the last week and not motivated to really do anything, here’s just a crumb of what’s been going on in my head.

  1. CSI Miami is being taken off of Netflix, and for some strange reason I feel like I have to binge watch before it’s gone.  Everything in my head is now being said in that David Caruso voice with the dramatic pause, that’s in EVERY SINGLE LINE HE HAS.  I don’t know who wrote his lines, but some of them make me want to stab my eyes with chopsticks.
  2.  My dog is sad and moping around now that we’re not home every day like we were during Harvey, which makes no sense since it’s not any different from before the storm.  And by the way, since when does a dog poop TWICE in one walk?!?!
  3. Years ago when I was trying to explain the dog’s micro-chip, I told my daughter that she had a GPS tracking chip in her so that I would know where she was if somebody kidnapped her.  She believed  me until a couple of years ago when she found the GPS app that I had hidden on her phone and figured out that the app is how I always knew where she was when she wasn’t with me.
  4. T1288These Iced Lemon Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough meal replacement shakes from Advocare are like crack.  It’s takes all the willpower in the world for me not to have one WITH EVERY MEAL.  It’s like dessert.  Seriously.  Typically I use meal replacement shakes when I’m in a bind and don’t have time to pack a lunch/breakfast or haven’t gone to the grocery store.  I started finding reasons to have these instead!  I think I have my addiction under control.  But I’m still not giving these things up completely!  They’re so easy and convenient, and I can throw my superfoods greens powder in them and not really notice the taste.  If you want a discount so you can try, message me and we can work something out.  You won’t be sorry.
  5. I’m pretty much ready to retire and just be done working.  Only 17 more years to go!

My 5 Favorite No Crunch Ab Moves

chocolate-2202083_640Ab workouts are horrible.  Some types of ab workouts do more harm to other areas just by the design of the movement (strain on the neck, weakened pelvic floor, overuse of hip-flexors etc. etc.).  And they’re horrible.  I will never have a “six pack”.   In fact, I usually just refer to my abs as “my ab”…singular.  A day or two after a workout that involves abs you can usually hear me whining like a two year old every so often about how “my AB is sooooooore“.  Because, have I mentioned?  AB WORKOUTS ARE HORRIBLE!  And crunches are the devil. Just saying.  So when I go to the gym or go play volleyball, I try to focus on movements that are multi-functional.

  1. Squats – If you’re not fully engaging your core here YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT.   Your core needs to be tight all the way from the top to bottom and back up in order to maintain balance and help prevent back strain.
  2. Standing Long Jumps and/or volleyball block/approach jumps – These are my favorite.   Most people think when you block/hit a volleyball your just jump straight up.  But in fact, your body makes more a C formation, just like when you land in a long jump.  In each of these movements your feet are behind you at one point, only to end up in front of you prior to completion.  It’s these movements that contract your abs/core.   And let me tell you, it doesn’t take many reps to start feeling sore if your ab has gotten a bit fluffy.
  3. Hanging Leg Lifts – Whether you do a full on toe to bar or just knee ups, these can engage the abs hard core.  You can overuse your hip-flexors here, so be careful. Arms, legs, abs…this one has it all.
  4. Planks – Oh, the variations of planks are seemingly endless!  This is another one that you KNOW if your core is not engaged the entire time then you’re just not doing the movement correctly.  Just to list a few…
    • Walking Plank
    • Side Plank
    • Reverse Plank
    • Planks with Shoulder Touches
    • Single Arm/Leg Plank
    • X Plank
  5. Medicine ball halo – These always attack the my obliques and different variations will help with balance!

Much like the rest of my chaotic life, most of the time what my workout will actually be is pretty tentative right up until I walk through the gym door. I know this is HORRIBLE, but I hate to plan. It stresses me out. I feel a sense of freedom with nothing is locked down or set in stone.  The one thing I do know is that I don’t do workouts specifically targeted to abs.  Maybe that’s wrong, but it beats the alternative of not working out at all!!

 

Five Health Reasons I Love Kombucha

Kom-buch-what?

I think the first time I had ever even seen the word kombucha was when I was watching Flaked on Netflix.  I won’t go into what the show was about or why this guy was always drinking wine out of a container labeled “kombucha”, but I had no idea what that word even was.  So I googled it.

kombuchaKombucha is a fermented beverage typically consisting of tea and sugar.  While it’s usually made with black tea, kombucha can also be made with green tea.  After the fermentation process, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid.  While buying Kombucha from a store can get fairly pricey, making it at home can become a bit thorny.  So typically I’ll wait for a good sale and then stock up.  I’ve come to realize that the time and effort it takes to maintain Kombucha production is just not worth the thorn in my side.  But the experiment was fun while it lasted.

Since sugar is used in making kombucha many people are concerned about the sugar content in the finished tea.  However, because of the fermentation process the majority of the sugar is used as food for the bacteria and is not present in the final product.  Because the sugar is the food for the bacteria, it is not possible to make without any sugar at all and the reason that sugar substitutes will not work.

While the studies performed have not provided solid evidence of the many benefits that have been touted all over the internet, the anecdotal reports are overwhelming.  Here are are just some of the benefits that I have actually experienced:

1) Improved Digestion – Kombucha contains probiotics, enzymes and beneficial acids and these have been researched for their health benefits. Drinks like Kombucha, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut contain billions of these beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids that help keep the gut in balance.  The digestive enzymes present in it enhance the effects of glucuronic acid and aids in the breakdown of proteins and sacchrides thereby, making the digestive system more efficient.

2) Reduced Pain and Inflammation –    Kombucha contains glucosamine , which means that it’s a great tonic for arthritis.  But even if you don’t have arthritis, you may still have inflammation in your body that isn’t even causing you pain.  Inflammation also happens when your digestive system is not working properly.  Because Kombucha aids in digestion, this could also lead to reduced levels of pain and inflammation.  This might be a big reason I’m not experiencing pain in the joint of my big toe anymore, which I SWEAR is arthritis, or “jumpers toe”, from all those years playing volleyball.

3) Helps to reduce Heart Disease – I’m always looking for natural ways to help lower and maintain cholesterol.  In animal models, kombucha helps to lower triglyceride levels, as well as regulate cholesterol naturally. Research studies have provided qualitative evidence regarding the anti-lipidemic properties of kombucha which helps in reducing the absorption of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides and elevate the levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) in the body.  Given the claims of benefits tea is reported to have on cholesterol and heart disease, it’s not a far stretch that a product made with tea as the primary ingredient would also sustain these benefits.

4) Boosts Immunity – Kombucha is rich in antioxidants which strengthen immune defenses and boost the energy levels of the body. The anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of kombucha help in fighting various bacterial and viral infections.

5) Healthier Substitute for Soda – One of the reasons I love it so much because I  find it a MUCH healthier substitute for soda that satisfies the occasional craving for a fizzy drink.  The high quality products typically have only a few ingredients which are mostly organic in nature.  When was the last time you read the ingredients on a can of soda?

Super Mom

Screenshot_2017-09-13-06-45-22-1This morning, while she was making her lunch, I helped my daughter look for her popped rice crisps…That I stress ate during the storm.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I ate the remaining half the bag as I was sitting in the front room watching the water come further and further up the drive way.  You see, not only do I have a penchant for anything ranch or sour cream and onion flavored, well, it was just a super stressful time!  I didn’t think she’d understand.  So I played dumb and helped her “look”.  That’s just the right thing to do, no?

A Day of Remembrance

candles-2628473_640The last few days have been so incredibly busy.  I barely had time to breathe, yet I still felt a heaviness on my heart yesterday.  I sent up a little prayer for the fallen heroes and their families every chance I got.  At the same time praying for all the family and family of friends in the middle of Irma.

In a sense, I feel a little bit of “survivor’s guilt”.  Having come out of Harvey completely untouched while I look around and see so much destruction and loss.  Not only here but in Florida and the Caribbean as well.  My life has returned to normal like nothing ever happened.  I know I’m not the only one that feels this way, others have mentioned this to me as well.

For some reason I feel like these last few days have issued a call to service.  A call to give back to the community and help all those who have lost so much and who haven’t been as blessed and fortunate as I have been. And while I always know that’s what I should be doing, I let life get in the way.  For some reason I can’t help but feel that is one call that I shouldn’t disobey.

5 Reasons I Drink Green Tea on the Regular

friday_workoutI got an early start this morning so, after battling all of the excuses I kept coming up with to NOT, I went to the gym instead of going straight to work.  Of course, even though I’m telecommuting, I’ll have to work a little later than I normally do.  But I think it was TOTALLY worth the trade-off.  It felt great to get up and GET IT DONE!  I’m going to try to go to the gym before work a couple of days next week and see how it impacts my commute and the length of my day.  I do believe, however, that the normal afternoon fatigue that hits after lunch might reach a crescendo earlier than usual those days.  In which case I might just have to double up on my afternoon pick-me up of green tea.  I started drinking green tea instead of coffee in the afternoons for all the health benefits it was touted to have.

Green tea originated in China as a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea.  Green tea extracts have been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for a variety of uses.  Extracts may be sold in liquid, powder, capsule, or tablet form.  Green tea extract supplements are accessible over the counter in various forms and extracts that are standardizedare typically 90 percent total polyphenols.  One Capsule equals approximately 5 cups of tea.

While I don’t take a green tea extract supplement, I do drink a cup or two of green tea about 5 days a week.  In addition, some of the Advocare supplements I take have green tea extract in them, my favorite is the Advocare Advogreens Powder.  I’ve taken all of these, which also have the extract, before – MNS-C, MNS-3, CorePlex.

Here are 5 reasons I drink green tea almost daily:

1)  Green tea may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease – Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest causes of death in the world.  Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases.  I mentioned it as one of the ways to reduce cholesterol naturally in a previous post.  Because of the beneficial effects on the following risk factors, green tea drinkers could experienced up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

–  Green tea contains flavonoids that promote heart health and may lower your risk of having high blood pressure by 50 percent.
–  Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation in the heart and lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.  It dramatically increases the antioxidant capability of the blood, which protects the LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which can lead to a greater risk of heart disease.

2)  Green tea increases fat burning and improves physical performance – If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are that green tea will be on there. Since green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short-term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.  In one study of 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4%.  More energy expenditure results in more calories burned.  Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17% which indicates that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.

3) Antioxidants in green tea may helpt to lower your risk for various types of cancer  –   Green tea contains an organic compound called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.  Not only does EGCG inhibit the growth of, but it also kills cancer cells.  It is well-known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants can have a protective effect.  Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants, so it makes perfect sense that it could reduce your risk for some types of cancer  -including breast cancer, colorectal, prostate and various other cancers.

4)  Skincare – Green tea’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities can apparently also help with wrinkles and the signs of aging.   Studies have shown that some of the benefits green tea has on skin are:

–  Helps to fight and treat acne
–  Helps to protect against UV exposure and reduce sun damage
–  Helps to tone skin and improve overall complexion
–  Helps to fights aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles
–  Helps to reduces puffy eyes and dark circles

5)  Green tea and oral health – Periodontal disease (gum disease) affects many people and side effects include inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria.  Green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent or control gum disease.  Many studies indicate that those who regularly consume green tea have healthier gums than those who do not.  Green tea benefits in oral health include:

–  Better breath
–  Fewer Cavities
–  Less tooth loss
–  Increased Gum Health
–  Lower risk of oral cancer

Of course, drinking it sweetened and/or with milk will offset some of the benefits, so I’ve trained myself to drink it unsweetened.  It took a while because, honestly, it tasted like dirt to me at first.  Now it just tastes like…well…green tea…