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July 8, 2011 / Liza

A Little of DC

Hi!

I haven’t posted in a little while! I just started my positive psychology class this week (which I’m absolutely loving) and I was in DC for the long weekend! (Literally long, I left on Thursday and got back Tuesday!) Watching the fireworks from the Washington Monument was incredible. Apparently in the last 30 seconds, there were 1000 fireworks– crazy, right?! It was awesome.

I only really played tourist for one day there, but it was such a wonderful day, I just walked all over the place, went to some Smithsonian museums– The Museum of Natural History and The National Gallery, and meandered on the National Mall. I didn’t take too many pictures, but here are a few!



I had a really nice time just touring by myself– it was really peaceful and relaxing to just walk and walk if I wanted and stop wherever I wanted. I hope I get back to DC soon, it’s an awesome city!

June 29, 2011 / Liza

The Journey

Lunch today was delicious, refreshing, and just what I wanted. The dressing on this salad I learned from one of my best friends: you mix hummus (preferably lemon flavored, yum) with some balsamic vinegar and then add water to your desired consistency. It’s. so. good.

salad with spinach, tomatoes, carrot, feta, and hummus-balsamic dressing

half an apple with almond butter... what would i do without almond butter? :)

Turns out the midday lighting by my window is all right, yeah?

So I started reading my textbooks for the Positive Psychology course I’m starting next Tuesday and honestly, I love doing the reading. It’s hardly “work,” its actually pretty pleasurable reading. I’m hoping that the things I learn in these books and in this class will become ingrained in me because I think there is a lot of truth in this stuff.

I RARELY find quotes in books that just hit home to point that I fold down the corner so I’ll remember where it is. That happened this morning and I wanted to share this quote with you. It is from the The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt:

“…once you apply the metaphor “life is a journey,” the metaphor guides you to some conclusions: You should learn the terrain, pick a direction, find some good traveling companions, and enjoy the trip, because there may be nothing at the end of the road.”

I have a wall hanging in my room that says: “Happiness is in the journey, not at the end of the road.” I have always tried to keep this in my head with everything that I do. I have also noticed the truth in it through my feelings after big events: I always get the “post ______ blues” and realize that while the event (dance show, race, etc.) itself was spectacular, so much of the fun was in the time getting ready for it.

The quote from Haidt isn’t really profound, I just really love the metaphors because they highlight in a very pure way that in order to live in the moment and to live life to its fullest, it’s important to just “enjoy the trip” with “good companions.” How simple and wonderful is that? Honestly, the last bit: “because there may be nothing at the end of the road” almost made me flinch — it’s a little depressing to think there’s nothing there! But it actually kind of gives me a sense of calm that life is about the experiences throughout. Every experience is valuable because there is no rush to “get” anywhere– we just get to live life.

What metaphor has taught you something about life?

Have a beautiful day!

June 28, 2011 / Liza

Figuring It Out

Good Morning!

So, I have been trying to capture my breakfasts for some time now. But the lighting was just not happening and I wanted to avoid standing on my stoop with my breakfast on the stairs snapping pics. Anyway, I had seen light boxes on many blogs and that got me thinking… I figured out that since I have 3 very bright lights around my desk, I can point them all where I want, and then hold up my computer (a white Macbook) to serve as a white wall while a take a picture with my other hand! Confused? Haha. The down side are that the pictures still aren’t nearly as good as with natural light and that I don’t get to manually focus like I like to, but cest la vie.

Enough of that… breakfast was delicious! I have been really into bowls of cereal with frozen blueberries lately (so refreshing!), but today I was craving an award winning combo.

whole wheat pita with almond butter and banana... a classic!

In other news, I went to yoga yesterday and the studio that I go to here in Philly is both very similar and very different from my studio at home in Boston. One thing that I was quite skeptical about when I started going to this Philly studio was their chanting of a specific mantra at the end of each class just before saying namaste. Communal chanting of mantras tends to seem a bit much to me. But, I tried to keep an open mind I asked the teacher what it was after my second class because I didn’t know it and couldn’t chant it. When I looked it up at home, I was struck by the beauty of its meaning. So, I wanted to share it with you because I love it and hope you do too and also because I think its interesting and can have different interpretations depending on how you think about it.

Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

What does this quote mean to you?

Have a wonderful Tuesday! :)

June 25, 2011 / Liza

Food Obsessions

First of all, re: my last post, a spot in the class I wanted to take this summer opened up yesterday, soooooo this summer I will be taking Intro to Positive Psychology! Hopefully, I will have LOTS to report on the blog! :) I know I’ll learn a lot and I’m excited!

Okay, Food! I haven’t posted anything about food since I got back into my blog and it. is. time!

I had a most delicious snack today…

sliced carrot + almond butter accompnied by an unpictured glass of soymilk!

Honestly, I could eat almond butter on pretty much anything I think. I could also probably eat it every day all day and never get sick of it. This one is my favorite (my mom is hooked on this one too)– Trader Joe’s crunchy salted almond butter with roasted flaxseeds… does it get better?

Besides the usual almond butter, lately I’ve been digging on a few things– does anybody else go through phases where you’re just obsessed with a few things and eat them all the time? Well, lately, here’s what’s tasting and feeling awesome to eat:

1. Light Plain Soymilk (various brands)

Just plain delicious + protein! I can drink this by the glassful.

2. Blueberries — fresh and frozen varieties!

Summer + antioxidants! ‘Nuff said. Frozen blueberries are PERFECT for smoothies AND for refreshing bowls of cereal.

3. Vans Lite Waffles

Okay, until about 2 weeks ago, I hadn’t had a frozen waffle since I was in like… 5th grade. Where have I been? Anyway, I brought ‘em back with the inspiration from other food bloggers/health nutting style with fruit, almond butter, a little maple syrup…. mmm!

4. Tofu

Disclaimer: this one is not a phase… I’m basically obsessed. I have a couple recipes/ methods which I circulate (and will hopefully get up on the blog soon), but basically, I would LIKE to eat it every night for dinner, but I hear too much soy is bad… as is too much of anything, so I try to keep my tofu consumption in check!

5. Sriracha Sauce

This. stuff. is. BOMB. Holy smokes it’s the best. My friend showed me this recently too, it’s a little vulgar, but funny anyway!

Of course, the list goes on: dark chocolate and Pirate’s Booty make awesome desserts/snacks and tart froyo is purchased every chance I get/allow myself to spend $4 on it because it’s 90 degrees and humid every day here and froyo is the besttttt.

What are your latest food obsessions?

June 23, 2011 / Liza

The Power of the Mind

Hello!

Still experimenting with this relaxed posting schedule! It feels a bit off because I have no regular commitment to it, but I’m going to keep on seeing how it goes for now!

I wanted to do a post on mental health since most of my past posts have had to do with physical health — food, exercise… but wait, what’s the difference?

Let me explain. Lately, I’ve been hearing, reading, and learning a lot about the connection between body and mind. There’s tons of research about how interconnected the two are and how simply believing something or thinking something or convincing yourself of something can have significant impact on how your body feels and reacts. On the one hand, it seems like a no brainer, but on the other it also seems a little hokey. But here are just a few simple ways in which I feel the mind/body connection can make us healthier.

1. Smile

Whenever I go for a run, I make sure to take at least one second to look up at the sky and smile and just feel gratitude for the fact that a can run and for all of the good fortune I have in life.  It doesn’t make me run faster or make a cramp go away, but it always improves my mood and makes my whole self– body and mind– feel better.

2. Be Positive

This is the crown jewel of the body/mind connection. If we can see the positive in a stinky situation, we can do anything. Maybe that’s exaggerating. But truthfully, we all find ourselves in the occasional or not so occasional disappointing, unfortunate, and/or frustrating circumstance, usually accompanied by feelings of helplessness or sadness or anger. But if we can just lift up out of it for a second at a time to think: “Wow, when this finally gets better, and it will, I’m going to be so thankful” or “Even though this sucks, at least I got to read my favorite book today for 20 minutes/ eat my favorite dessert/ watch my favorite TV show/ run my favorite route this morning / etc.” or the ultimate positivity thought: “It could be so much worse.” If we can just have a thought like that, and if we can slowly increase the frequencies of those thoughts, we can make not only big differences in our minds but in our bodies– I really think that positive people LOOK better– happier, “glowier” if I can be so cliche. It makes a difference.

3. Stop For a Second

We’re always going going going — our minds and our bodies. But when we are feeling most stressed, just slowing everything down to stillness for a few minutes and just breathing clears the mind and energizes the body.

There are tons of other little things we can do calm our minds and better our bodies, but it seems to me that the bottom line is that things like this reduce stress. And truthfully, stress takes a toll not only on the mind but on the body. Constant stress can alter blood pressure, digestion, and so much more. It’s truly beneficial to your whole body to de-stress!

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I hear some of this stuff when I’m especially stressed and think it’s a bunch of bogus, but learning more about, writing this post, and really just trying to actively BE more positive, is really making me believe in positivity as a powerful tool for holistic wellness.

All that being said, I’ve been experiencing a much different kind of stress than I’m used to, which has made it that much harder to deal with. But yesterday, I just took me + my camera + my iPod on an hour walk to Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum and just slowed down my brain and my stress for a bit. On the way back I finally made it to the Philly Trader Joe’s I had been meaning to get to for so long, and after almost 3 hours of walking in the 90 degrees + sunshine, I was certainly exhausted, but I felt good. It just reminded me to slow down, be positive, smile, and be thankful for life!


June 9, 2011 / Liza

My First Half Marathon

Almost 2 weeks ago, I ran my first half marathon. I ran Boston’s Run To Remember with once of my closest friends with whom I had been training for 10 weeks prior.

What an experience! I had heard about races and read race recaps on other blogs, but I don’t think anything could really prepare me for how I would feel. The only other race I had done was about 2 weeks before when I ran a local 5K that my brother spontaneously suggested. But my first half marathon (and I say first because more are in my future! I know it!) was huge– close to 9,000 people!!! Needless to say, it was slightly overwhelming getting to the race and seeing so many people. But, I was really just so excited that it was happening after all of my training.

My friend had already run a half in 1:50 so our goal was to beat that , or at least not go slower — an 8:30 pace. So, we lined up at the 8:30 sign and we were off! The first few miles were so exhilarating being among so many people, weaving through people, the energy is so exciting! As we came up at each mile marker, I calculated from the clock times that we were running at an 8:00 minute pace. This got me super excited, but simultaneously worried. Could I keep that up? We were not even half way through and I wasn’t prepared for that pace. But we went on!

Around mile 8 ish, I was starting to lose steam and the consistent 8:00 minute miles were worrying me more because I felt I couldn’t keep it up for the whole of it. My friend was feeling much better than me and a little after mile 9, she asked if I would be okay with her finishing up the last 3.1 ahead. And so at mile 10, she left and I slowed wayyyy down… I don’t know if I calculated it right, but I may have run mile 11 in over 9 minutes. Getting to run alone let me realize that this was my race and I had the chance to run the rest how I wanted and to motivate myself. After some water at the 11 mile marker, I sped up for the last 2.1 and finished in about 1:45/1:46!!!! Immediately after I crossed the finish, my exhaustion hit me and I felt entirely depleted. I downed two cups of water and felt like I had eaten a huge meal or something. My friend had come in about a minute before me and I found her amongst the masses of runners and boxes of food and surprisingly, I started to tear up a bit! I’ve heard about how emotional races can be but I didn’t really believe it until I ran one that I had been training for for 10 weeks and felt so so proud of because I really pushed hard.

The rest of the day I was exhausted and a little bit sad/cranky (and super hungry!). I did some research and think I may have had some “post-race blues”– so interesting! I’m prone to getting sad after big events are over– big dance shows, family vacations, my bat mitzvah (I cried so much after that!). So honestly, I wasn’t too surprised! BUT, I did learn that I want to do more! I think I have the running/racing bug now forever. :)

My question for you:

What are your favorite race lengths? I’ve only done a 5K and a half marathon but I would love to do a 5 miler, 10K, and 10 miler!

Happy running!

May 25, 2011 / Liza

Long Time, No Post!

WOW! Okay, so I have no idea if anybody is still reading my blog– I’ve been away from it for the entire school year — but hello if you’re out there! :)

Though I haven’t been posting, I still feel a part of the healthy living blog world as I still read many blogs. As my summer plans have continuously been up in the air, I have considered starting blogging again. But I was unsure. A couple days ago, I got a wonderful comment from a reader whose blog I love who wrote about finding time for blogging, “I just tell myself, ‘a time and place for everything’ .. and I just blog when I can.” I took that as a sign that maybe gearing up my blog again would be a good idea. So thank you for your comment! So so much! :) As per this beautiful comment, I plan on blogging when I can and not necessarily on a regular schedule– I think the more relaxed schedule will be great for me!

But I’ve also been thinking about how I want my blog to be content-wise and I think I want to do less of the day to day eats and make my blog about healthy living more broadly. I’m not exactly sure where this will take my blog, but I’m looking forward to branching out and filling my posts with a variety of topics. I’m excited to explore and experiment!

For now, here’s a photo of the bleeding hearts in my backyard.

Have a beautiful day! :)

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