Tag Archives: Friends

Are YOU Up for the Challenge?

exercise-buddies-2.jpgI have always found that a buddy, someone to lean on when the crunches get tough, is the best “tool” for any successful exercise or diet plan.

And for those of you who may be looking to lose weight or just to get back in shape, I have found the perfect tool for you and your closest buds!

The 2008 SELF Challenge was recently released online and in their March issue. I have always been a big supporter of the plans that SELF puts together; I love the fact that they really require little work to follow — the eating and exercise plans are completely laid out for you — and it is a regimen that you can follow with friends.

This year’s challenge really tops the ones that I have seen in the past. First of all, the nutritionist, Katherine Brooking, put together a 1,600-calorie food plan that includes easy-to-use blocks which are required to put together meals. Each block — dairy, protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruit and veggies, an one treat — is equivalent to a specific food and portion size. For example, one treat block — the best one! — is equal to 3 Dove Dark Chocolate Miniatures or 16 oz. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino Light. Even if you are someone like me, who is not necessarily trying to lose weight, but just eat more healthfully, this system is awesome because it allows you to learn how to put together healthy, balanced meals.

The second part of SELF’s Challenge is the exercise. For this aspect of the program, SELF has put together a cardio and strength plan which, for the first month of the program, includes 2 strength and 3 cardio sessions per week. The strength exercises come equipped with tear-out cards that include instructions, and no fancy equipment is required — just a pair of 3 to 10 lb. free weights.

As for the cardio, the thrice-weekly sessions are 25 minutes each and vary in intensities. For example one cardio workout is called “Get Slim, Gain Energy” and uses different intensities to build endurance. SELF also includes 1-minute “Bonus Burners,” such as jumping rope, which burns thirteen calories per minute.

The online portion of the program also includes down loadable video and MP3 workouts, food and exercise diaries for you to keep track of meals and workouts, and a progress chart where you can document your starting weight, measurements and ability to do exercises, such as push ups. That way, as you continue on with the program, you will be able to track your weight and health progress.

I signed up for the program today,and signed the Challenge Pledge — because putting it in writing always makes it more official! My goals this month are to get stronger and increase my endurance. What I am saying here is that I would like to be able to do more than 2 3/4 push ups, people!!

I also think that the Challenge will help me to continue to be motivated to get out there and get moving. What’s more, it could not come at a better time, seeing as how my family, friends, this community and I are preparing to participate in the 2008 Pittsburgh Race for the Cure (see sidebar for more information about our team and how to join).

I hope that each one of you, too, will sign on for the challenge. No matter what our individual health or weight loss goals are I think it is fabulous that we can use a forum such as this to support each other in our combined goal for healthier lives.

Now, get goin’!



Filed under Eat, March 2008, Run

The World is Pretty Amazing

volunteer.jpg I love to volunteer. There is something about lending a helping hand that can make your whole world feel different; the air feels crisper, people seem more cheerful, you have an extra bounce in your step.

The thing is, this feeling is more self-created, than actual. Don’t get me wrong — the feeling of doing something good it very real indeed. But the way in which your world all of a sudden appears more rosy? That, my friend, is created by you.

Here’s the thing: Volunteering is so wonderful because not only are you smiling, but you are making someone else smile as well. And volunteer options are always available. You just have to be willing to step up to the plate.

I hear you, I hear you: “But I don’t have time!” I tell myself that, too, all of the time.

But, yes, you do. We all do.

Put aside a couple hours of Oprah, and all of a sudden you will have time. Or take your volunteering with you to work — a lot of organizations involve gathering money to support the cause. You can also tell your kids to take a night off from hanging out with friends, and involve your whole family — you will have time and you will be creating memories.

Anne Frank once said,

How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment:
we can start now, start slowly changing the world!”

That’s the thing about making a difference — No, you are not going to change the world over night. But imagine if you could change just one person’s world. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?!

I am just putting together some of the causes that I would like to volunteer for this year. One cool thing about volunteering is that you can combine your passions and your need to give to others. I would like to include health, fitness and writing on my Volunteer To-Do List this year.

While you are still a-thinkin’, take this survey that I put together. I would love to hear what all of you are involved in, or what volunteer goals you have for this year.

Let’s inspire each other!!

Emerson and Cooper at 3 months old and all dressed up — we adopted them from the Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh.


Filed under February 2008, Pray

Love of the Unconditional, Concrete, Make-You-Wanna-Smile Kind

flower4.jpg Unselfish love.

It really is an interesting concept. I mean, the thought of loving someone unconditionally, without abandon, no holds-barred — it seems easy and difficult all at the same time.

I was watching an episode of Friends the other day in which Phoebe and Joey are disussing about whether or not there is such a thing as an unselfish good deed. Joey concedes that there in fact is not; there is no good deed that can be done without feeling a bit of delight from the fact that you made someone’s day. Phoebe sets out to prove him wrong. Needless to say, she is unsuccessful — every good thing that she does for another makes her smile.

But what about the good deed of love? Does it really matter if you feel pleasure in the fact that you love someone so much nothing they did or said could change it, that it will never end, that you would give up anything to see them smile?

I don’t think so.

Theologist and Episcopal priest, Carter Heyward, once said, “Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete.”

The fantastic thing about unconditional love is that the finality of such a regard allows the ones you love to know you care for them with no conditions attached; no strings, no yeah buts. Your intention would be to make him or her smile at the mere thought of the love between the two of you; to feel special that you shared your last favorite cookie with him — because you love him; to feel sad or worried or excited and call on you because you are an endless source of love in her life.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with my cousin and godchild, Chloe, on Sunday. I have always maintained that kids are the most natural unconditional lovers — they don’t understand grudges, selfish behavior and things of the sort.

When I arrived at Chloe’s house, she told me she had a present for me, and handed me a beaded necklace with a large flower. I reacted with surprise and told her how much I loved it; she grinned and helped me put it on. I found out from my aunt that this necklace had actually been Chloe’s great grandmother’s. I rushed to take it off, “Oh, gosh, I cannot keep this,” I told my aunt. But she shook her head and told me I absolutely had to keep it. “It is no big deal,” she said, “And Chloe loves to share.”

And I wondered, “Do I love to share? Do I unconditionally love the loves of my life so much that I would hand over my great grandmother’s jewelry just to make their days?”

I would like to think so. And I would like to think that necklace would make one of them smile, just as Chloe’s gift has done for me.

I wore my necklace out yesterday, and every time I received a compliment, I thought of Chloe’s delighted face when she saw me put on the jewelry. She did not care that she had once less flowered necklace to play dress up with; she was happy knowing that I was happy.

And, surely, that is the gift of unconditional love — to know that you have allowed another to move forward in love with your concrete love on his or her side.

That makes it oh-so-easy, doesn’t it?


Filed under February 2008, Pray

THAT Girl’s Fuzzy Legs

I’m not too shabby of a girl.

I can make a nice appearance, and (I think) I have pretty good taste in clothes, fashion and things of the sort.

But I know for sure that I’m never going to be “that girl.”

You know the chica I am speaking of — that girl who just looks like she has her whole act together. Her hair is perfectly groomed, sleek and shiny; it even smells really good, but not too good.

Her nails are manicured and her jeans fit her ass like they do store mannequin’s — a little snug, but with just enough room below her butt cheeks to make those jeans look dang good.

“That girl” wears the perfect earrings, heeled-shoes with grace, a cinched coat that emphasizes her teeny waste, just enough makeup to give her a glow, and perfume that makes you want to run out and buy whatever scent she is wearing with hope in your heart that it will make you appear just as cool and collected.

I am not that girl.

I typically get ready in twenty minutes. If I am lucky, I slap on some tinted moisturizer and blush, and when I am feeling extra special, a bit of mascara. Of course if I get to wear mascara, it usually ends up running down my face because my allergies are so bad that my eyes tear every five seconds.

I often pull my hair in a ponytail or headband, wear flat shoes with dirty spots all over them and my favorite pair of jeans that fit my butt too tight because I had seconds of dinner the night before.

I forget to wear earrings, I am often called “cute” and I use excuses like, “Oh, I am not shaving my legs because I need a little extra coverage for winter” — even if it is the dead of summer.

I am THAT girl.

I have tried being the other girl. I have even seen that girl and made a declaration right there and then that I am going to try to be more like that.

But my efforts usually fall through the cracks within a 24-hour time period. And it’s not because I don’t care — I do! But it is just that something else seems more important. For example, I will choose an extra hour of writing over my clothes being ironed or I will give up pretty pink nails for spending time with my family.

But maybe that’s OK.

I am not saying that being that girl means giving up other important things, like time with friends or a solid career. Perhaps, they really do have all of that figured out, too.

But it just doesn’t work for me. I have not been quite able to figure out the best of both worlds.

So, I meet in the middle.

Some days I will take a bit of extra time to splurge and wear a bit of eyeshadow. But that also probably means my hair will go undone or my shoes will be less-than-perfectly polished.

It’s funny — sometimes I actually shower and do my hair before my fiance, Dan, gets home from work, and he will walk in and say, “Why are you looking so nice?”

Meanwhile, all I did was give myself a good rinse, and I am sitting there with no makeup, wearing a sweater and jeans.

If that is “looking so nice,” can you imagine how bad anything less is?

But it does make me feel good to know I actually tried to channel a bit of “that girl.” And really, when it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Because I’ll take spotted shoes and a ponytail any day, if it means extra time to write down my thoughts or a few moments to read a book.

And “that girl”? Well, hopefully, writing about you will feel almost as good as being like you.

Because, girl, these hairy legs aren’t going anywhere.

Two of my favorite accessories: food and a hat!


Filed under February 2008, Pray

Lessons in Love and Coolness

pgandisaac-2.jpg When my mother decided to have two more children after my sister and me, I don’t think I could have ever been prepared to understand how much her choice would impact my life. I was nine years old when Luke was born and eleven when Isaac came into my life. At the time, I had no clue how much these two boys were about to change my world.

But for quite some time now, I have told people they are “Like my first kids.” I have learned more from caring for them and fighting with them and laughing with them than I could ever put into words. Isaac, now 13 years old, is a little light, my constant, “Hey, Care, look at this!” reminder that life is so awesome. Luke, now 15 years old, is a carbon copy of me, save for the fact that I am a girl and he is a boy. He is a book nerd almost as much as I am, and he is totally jealous that I have Post-It pens and he doesn’t. But somehow he makes it all sound much cooler than I do.

They were both at my apartment for a sleepover this weekend, and while Isaac and my fiance, Dan, ran around and got goofy, Luke decided he wanted me to help him create a blog.

This kid amazes me.

His belief in himself, his thoughts and actions is so steadfast, so unwavering. He likes rock n’ roll and doesn’t really care if his friends don’t. He has the entire collection of Friends DVDs and knows the lines inside and out — despite the fact it is a bit before his time. He and his friends have started their own film production company, the cause to which his new blog is now devoted. And he wanted to start that blog because not only does he want to be as fabulous as me , but he also has no problems putting his thoughts out there for the world to see.

I would like to think I was that sure of myself when I was his age, but I don’t think that was the case.

But here is what I understand about that notion: My mother always says (How often do I start a sentence like that? You rock, mom!) that her children have taught her way more about life than she ever could have taught them.

And I get that. But what I tell my mom she also needs to understand is that she, too, has made me who I am. I am a better person for having her as my mother.

When it comes to Luke and Isaac, I know for sure they have taught me a world of knowledge. I will raise my kids better, love my life more and move forward with more assuredness for having known the two of them.

But what I hope, too, is that I have given them pieces of myself that they can hold onto forever; lessons and love that have made them better people.

And the coolness?

Well, Luke, I would like to think I gave you a little bit of that, too.



Filed under February 2008, Pray